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J . l\. 

ElIJbri ' 

C. K. OGDEN 

THE WITNESS OF GOD 



FAITH 

TWO LAY SERMONS 



BY THE LATE 



T. H. GREEN, M.A., LL.D. 

FELLOW OF BALLIOL COLLEGE AND WHYTE's PROFESSOR OF MORAL 
PHILOSOPHY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD 



EDITED WITH AN INTRODUCTORY NOTICE 
BY THE LATE 

ARNOLD TOYNBEE, M.A. 

Tutor of Balliol College, Oxford 



LONDON 

LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO. 

AND NEW YORK : 15 EAST i6 th STREET 
1889 

All rights reserved 



' * .X 



PRINTED BY 

SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET 5QUARB 
LONDON 



BX 

5\ ^ *3 
LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF CMTTFORNIA 
\ o> G/Q SANTA BARBARA 



PREFACE. 



THE two Sermons composing this volume, 
though previously printed for private circula- 
tion, are now published for the first time. 
They were delivered in a college lecture-room 
to undergraduate members of Balliol College, 
Oxford. The first sermon was read at the 
beginning of 1870, shortly after Mr. Green 
had been made a tutor of the College. He 
was the first layman who had filled the office 
of tutor, and he had to consider whether he 
would follow a custom maintained by former 
clerical tutors, of speaking on a religious 
subject to their pupils on the evening before 
the administration of Holy Communion. 



iv Preface. 

After some hesitation he resolved to use 
the opportunity to meet some of the religious 
difficulties which haunt the minds of men 
who are beginning the study of philosophy 
and the laws of historical evidence. He met 
these difficulties not merely by the state- 
ment of a metaphysical position, but by 
enforcing, with all the impressive energy of 
a non-sacerdotal teacher, the practical cha- 
racter of the Christian life. The reader of 
these sermons, perplexed, perhaps, by ab- 
stract argument, may not at once detect the 
buried life of spiritual passion which burns 
beneath, but those who heard the first 
sermon have never forgotten the power with 
which the speaker dealt in a few words with 
the common theme of sin and vice. 

Though not present when the first sermon 
was delivered, I well remember the delivery 
of the second ; the prayer which preceded it, 
and the stillness with which, for not far short 



Preface. v 

of two hours, we listened to a discourse 
which, even in its most metaphysical passages, 
seemed to summon us to a new spiritual life. 
The second sermon was written in 1878, not 
for Mr. Green's pupils alone, but for the 
senior members of the whole College. At 
this time, though taking a less active part 
in the tuition of the College, he was still 
deeply interested in meeting the religious 
wants which he had tried to satisfy eight 
years before. The use of Biblical phrases in 
his first sermon he found had caused some 
perplexity ; and though the intellectual posi- 
tion of the two sermons is the same, in the 
second he purposely discards Scriptural lan- 
guage. Much as he reverenced the Bible, 
of which he once characteristically said it 
was the only book he really knew well, he 
was determined that his devotion to it should 
never, even in appearance, overpower his 
intellectual conscience. 



vi Preface. 

Like more than one famous book of the 
present epoch, these sermons have for their 
aim the separation of the spiritual from the 
supernatural. Mr. Green sought to establish 
in them an intellectual position for the 
Christian faith which should not be called in 
question by every advance in historical evi- 
dence and in physical science. It is with no 
eagerness to impair the existing religious 
creeds that he insists on the incorrectness of 
the theories on which they are professedly 
based ; other thinkers have assailed the 
orthodox foundations of religion to overthrow 
it, Mr. Green assailed them to save it. 



[NOTE. Mr. Green in his last illness left the 
two sermons which are here printed in the hands 
of Mr. Arnold Toynbee, his friend and former 
pupil, to be dealt with at his discretion. Within 
a year Mr. Toynbee has also been taken away. 
It had been his intention to publish the sermons 
with an Introduction, elucidating such parts of 



Preface. vii 

them as might be difficult to readers unaccustomed 
to metaphysical thought and language. This In- 
troduction he was never able to complete, but at 
the beginning of his illness he expressed the wish 
that the publication of the sermons should not be 
delayed, and that as few words as possible of his 
own should be prefixed to them. The above 
Preface is an extract from what he had written. 
C. M. T.] 



THE WITNESS OF GOD. 



i COR. v. 7, 8. 

Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us : therefore let 
us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither 
with the leaven of malice and wickedness ; but 
with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 
(Read also the previous part of the Epistle.) 

T N the chapter from which this text is 
* taken, St. Paul has been speaking 
hurriedly, as of a thing not to be dwelt upon 
of a case of incest which had occurred 
among the Corinthian Christians. Earlier in 
the Epistle he had rebuked them more at 
large for the contentions among them, for 
the Judaic or anti-Judaic partisanship which, 
here as elsewhere (Gal. v. 20), he traces to the 
same root of carnality as what are commonly 
called sins of the flesh. ' Whereas there is 
among you envying and strife and divisions 




The Witness of God. 



are ye not carnal and walk as men ? ' All 
the while, it seems, they were boasting of 
their privilege as ' spiritual,' as ' free,' as ' wise 
in Christ.' St. Paul fully admits their privi- 
lege. Ideally they were the temple of God, 
and the Spirit of God dwelt in them, commu- 
nicating a wisdom which the natural or carnal 
man could not receive. They had the mind 
of Christ, in virtue of which they might search 
all things, even the deep things of God. In 
the risen Lord, whose was the earth and the 
fulness thereof, all things were lawful unto 
them. All things were theirs, whether the 
world, or life, or death, or things present, 
or things to come. Yet the very assertion of 
the privilege, as the Corinthians asserted it, 
belied it. They made it a ground of conceit, 
of selfishness, even of sensual licence, and in 
so doing showed that it was not actually 
theirs. In the exaltation of their new deli- 
verance they were losing the moral result 
which gave that deliverance its specific value. 
The essential opposition, according to 
St. Paul's conception, between the wisdom of 
God which he preached and the religions 



The Witness of God. 



which it was to supersede, lay in its character 
as at once a gift and a universal gift. It was 
hus opposed alike to the Gentile and Jewish 
religions, and to the wisdom of the world. 
The Gentile religions were inventions of men, 
' changing the glory of the incorruptible God 
into an image made like to corruptible man, 
and to birds and four-footed beasts and creep- 
ing things.' In the nature of the case they 
were exclusive. They rested on fictitious 
systems of priesthood or caste or local wor- 
ship, limited by time and place, by national 
superiority, even by the forces of nature. 
Those who lived under them were not yet 
properly moralised. They had not realised 
their spiritual community ; or, in Pauline 
phraseology, they were in 'bondage under 
the elements of the world.' Nor had the 
Jews escaped this bondage. They had lived 
under a system which was indeed, in one 
sense, the gift of God, as having a special 
paedagogic purpose in His counsels. The Law 
was properly a schoolmaster to bring them 
to Christ ; but in so far as its temporary dis- 
ciplinary character was lost sight of so far 

B 2 



The Witness of God. 



as it was made a ground of national exclu- 
siveness, and its observance a matter of per- 
sonal pride it cut its votaries off from the 
righteousness of God, which is essentially a 
derived, communicated, and universal right- 
eousness ; not of works, but of grace ; not for 
a peculiar people, but for all men. They 
were living, not in the freedom and self- 
abandonment of the Spirit, but in the exclu- 
siveness and selfishness of the flesh. Nay, as 
observing days and months and times and 
years, they were like the heathen nature- 
worshippers, under the elements of the world. 
Their religion was not properly a moral one, 
but still determined by nature and sense. 

The ' wisdom of the world ' was weighted 
by a like burden of the flesh. Its fault did 
not lie in its aspiration, or in any inherent 
impotence of man to know the things of God. 
On the contrary, ' that which might be known 
of God ' His intelligible nature ' was mani- 
fest in man ' (Rom. i. 19), if man would but 
open his eyes to see it : and the effort to 
know him fully in whom were hid the trea- 
sures of wisdom and knowledge, as St. Paul 



T/ie Witness of God. 



tells us of himself, was the labour of his life. 
(Phil. iii. 10 ; Col. ii. 3.) But the aspiration 
after knowledge and God is one thing, the 
aspiration of self-conceit another ; and, in the 
eyes of St. Paul, the intellectual movement of 
the Gentile world had been of the latter sort. 
As the Jew, going about to establish his own 
righteousness, had not attained unto the 
righteousness of God, so the Greek, seeking 
for a wisdom which should be his own dis- 
covery, not a revelation of God's Spirit (i Cor. 
ii. 10), had lost at every step what he seemed 
to be finding. The wisdom which he gained 
was in word, not in power. It had no power 
over his will. It helped him not to attain to 
the new life, to the emancipation from sense, 
to the resurrection of the dead. On his heart, 
in the study of his poets and philosophers, as 
upon the Jew's in the reading of Moses, the 
veil remained the veil of self-regard and 
sensuous judgment Poring on himself, and 
looking askance at his fellow, his face was 
not open to the glory of the Lord, and hence 
was not changed into its image. When that 
glory was manifested in a body of humiliation, 



The Witness of God. 



in the baseness of the cross, blinded by the 
shows of flesh, he could not recognise it. It 
was foolishness to him. If the princes of this 
world crucified the Lord of Glory, its wisdom 
or, as we should say, its enlightenment and 
cultivation had been no wiser. It had taken 
sides with the princes, and thought scorn of 
the Crucified. Till its own flesh had been 
crucified till it had ceased to be a wisdom 
of the world, i.e., a self-seeking wisdom, and 
become a wisdom of God, it could do no 
other. 

To this vain wisdom of the world, as 
represented by Greek enlightenment ; to its 
self-righteousness, as represented by the 
zealous for the Law ; to its sensual religiosity, 
as represented by the impure worships de- 
scribed in the first chapter of the Epistle to 
the Romans, St. Paul opposes the wisdom, 
righteousness, and sanctification which Christ 
' is made unto us of God.' Can we penetrate 
behind the cloak of theological artifice with 
which this language has been overlaid, to a 
meaning true, permanently, and for us ? 

Christ is to St. Paul, essentially, if not 



The Witness of God. 



solely, the crucified and risen One. What- 
ever he knew of the life of Jesus of Nazareth 
and there is no reason to think that he 
knew anything of its details was, at any 
rate, absorbed and lost in his contemplation 
of the finishing act by which it became purely 
spiritual and heavenly of that death unto 
sin in virtue of which Christ lived eternally 
unto God. The death and rising again of 
the Christ, as he conceived them, were not 
separate and independent events. They were 
two sides of the same act an act which, 
relatively to sin, to the flesh, to the old man, 
to all which separates from God, is death ; 
but which, just for that reason, is the birth of 
a new life relatively to God. This act, again, 
though St. Paul doubtless identified it upon 
its several sides with the crucifixion of Jesus 
upon Mount Calvary, and His resurrection on 
the third day, was not to him an historical 
event, in the past now as beforehand it had 
been in the future. Though they are not 
St. Paul's own words, yet it is quite in his 
spirit to say that Christ was slain from the 
foundation of the world. Christ was that 



8 The Witness of God. 

Second Man, who is the Lord from Heaven. 
He was God's power and God's wisdom. God 
was in Him, so that what he did, God did. 
A death unto life, a life out of death, must, 
then, be in some way the essence of the 
divine nature must be an act which, though 
exhibited once for all in the crucifixion and 
resurrection of Christ, was yet eternal the 
act of God himself. For that very reason, 
however, it was one perpetually re-enacted, 
and to be re-enacted, by man. If Christ died 
for all, all died in Him : all were buried in 
His grave to be all made alive in His resur- 
rection. It is so far as the Second Man,, 
which is from heaven, and whose act is God's, 
thus lives and dies in us, that he becomes to 
us a wisdom of God, which is righteousness, 
sanctification, and redemption. In other 
words, He constitutes in us a new intellec- 
tual consciousness, which transforms the will, 
and is the source of a new moral life. In 
considering how this is, we shall find the 
practical realisation and with it the expla- 
nation and necessity of that conception of 
the resurrection as eternally wrought by God, 



The Witness of God. 



which might otherwise seem abstract or 
mystical. 

The wisdom of the world comes to nought, 
because it puts its own pretension between 
itself and God. It will not die that it may 
live. It will not renounce the sensual view 
of things and cancel the conceit which grows 
from this view, that it may open itself to the 
true knowledge, which can only be received 
as a revelation of God. This wisdom repre- 
sents the mental state of what St. Paul calls 
the carnal or natural man. It is overcome by 
the exhibition in Christ of that other mental 
state, in which self is renounced that God may 
be known. This is the mind of the Spirit. 
If it were a condition, however, which the 
individual could attain by his own effort, it 
would merely be the glorification of the 
wisdom of the world. It would be a self- 
renunciation which would be the acme of 
self-seeking. On the other hand, presented 
as the continuous act of God Himself, as the 
eternal self-surrender of the Divine Son to the 
Father, it is for us and may be in us, but is 
not of us. Nay, it is just because not of us, 



io The Witness of God. 

that it may be in us. Because it is the mind 
of Christ, and Christ is God's, in the contem- 
plation of it we are taken out of ourselves ; 
we slip the natural man and appropriate that 
mind which we behold. Constrained by God's 
manifested love, we cease to be our own, that 
Christ may become ours. We are conformed 
to the image of the Son, we receive the spirit 
of adoption, we have the wisdom of God. 

Thus that which Stoicism could not do, 
' in that it was weak through the flesh/ is 
achieved in Christ. The true wisdom which 
comes with self-abandonment is attained with- 
out neutralisation by personal pride developed 
in the process of attainment. To him who 
thus gains it, it means a change of ideas, a 
new view of the world, which gradually re- 
fashions his life. ' Old things are passed 
away, behold all things are become new. 
Even upon the natural world he looks with 
altered eyes. It is no longer to him a field 
for complacent curiosity to roam in, but the 
first stage of God's revelation of Himself. He 
finds the whole creation groaning and travail- 
ing after God ; dying because it cannot con- 



The Witness of God. 1 1 

tain Him, yet waiting for, and leading up to 
His manifestation. (Rom. viii. 19, 22.) Much 
more in the conception of the moral life, as 
the process in which Christ's death unto the 
flesh that he might live unto God is evermore 
repeated, has he a new key to unlock its 
secrets. Thus receiving Christ as his wisdom, 
and in the new consciousness thus constituted, 
he is redeemed from the bondage of sin, re- 
deemed from the curse of the Law, because 
he is redeemed from himself. The bondage 
of sin is that which no discipline, no reforma- 
tion of the habits, no observance of the Law 
can break. The observance of the Law carries 
its own curse, which is this, that the very act 
of its fulfilment breeds a new selfishness, and 
with it a new sin. From this curse there is no 
redemption but in the substitution of Christ, 
the New Man from heaven, for the old. Our 
mind must become Christ's, as Christ is God's. 
Our very self-consciousness, crucified with 
Him, must cease to be our own. Only then 
can our works, as being of God that worketh 
in us, work out the true salvation, the deliver- 
ance from the self-seeking self. Thus we 



1 2 The Witness of God. 

gain a righteousness which is not after the 
Law, even the righteousness of God ; which, 
because it is of God, unlike the self-elaborated 
righteousness of the Jew, instead of exalting 
men in conceit against each other, blends all 
in a common society of the redeemed. Thus 
finally we are sanctified. Bearing each other's 
burdens, as brethren in the Lord, we fulfil 
the Law. The blood of sprinkling is upon 
us, the crucified and risen Christ is in us. 
The self-abandoning self-consciousness, which 
knows itself as of God, ' flows through our 
deeds and makes them pure.' 

In the above I have tried to reproduce 
with as much exactness as modern phraseo- 
logy admits of, and without any conventional 
use of theological language, the essence of 
St. Paul's belief in Christ. So soon as we are 
brought face to face with it, the question in- 
evitably suggests itself Is not this concep- 
tion of an eternal act of death into life, 
manifested in Christ and to be shared in by 
us, a mere piece of doubtful metaphysics, so 
hard to be understood that Christendom, 
since St. Paul's time, has been busy in ex- 



The Witness of God. 1 3 

plaining it away, reducing the eternal act into 
a merely historical one, and the substitution 
of the new man for the old within us to a 
forensic substitution without us of Christ's 
merits for our sins, of the penalty which He 
bore for that due to us? If the conception 
has some metaphysical truth, what is its re- 
lation to life ? In what does the man who 
has it, and with it (according to our interpre- 
tation of St. Paul) the wisdom of God, differ 
practically from the man to whom it is un- 
meaning? Do we not in making righteous- 
ness and sanctification issue out of such a 
conception, reduce these themselves to mere 
ideas or empty phrases ? 

To this I answer, that all moral action 
begins from ideas. If it did not, the effort to 
persuade men should cease to-morrow. To 
say then that Christ, as the wisdom of God, 
is an idea, or form of intellectual conscious- 
ness and what else can St. Paul mean when 
he says that Christ is the Spirit, which God 
gives us (I Cor. ii. 10; 2 Cor. iii. 17, 18)? 
is the very reverse of reducing Him to an im- 
potent abstraction. An idea may indeed, to 



1 4 . The Witness of God. 

use St. Paul's phrase, be in word, but it may 
also be in power. It is in word only, if we 
regard it as our own invention and glory in 
it as such ; it is in power, if it is the com- 
munication of God, and as such received by 
us. Now this consciousness, of which the pre- 
sence in us is the presence of Christ this per- 
petual withdrawal from sense and self-regard 
into God just because it is the presence of 
Christ, is the communication of God. It 
does not thus cease to be intellectual, a mode 
of thought, an idea. St. Paul constantly 
speaks of it in terms appropriate to the in- 
tellect, such as ' wisdom ' and ' knowledge.' 
But it is a mode of thought which is from 
eternity, which is of God, not of us, of which 
we may partake, but which we do not origi- 
nate. Therefore it is ' in power.' It is meta- 
physical, if you like ; or, as St. Paul puts it, 
it is of faith. It has no representative in the 
world we see, as we see it. No life that we 
can live is a full expression of it. St. Paul 
himself, having already in some sort the mind 
of Christ, yet counted not himself to have 
attained it. To know Christ and the power 



The Witness of God. 1 5 

of His resurrection was still a goal towards 
which he had to struggle. (Phil. iii. 10, &c.) 
Yet the very condition of the struggle, if it 
was to be other than the fruitless warfare with 
himself which he had experienced under the 
Law, and which had only taught him to know 
sin, was that he should know the resurrection 
from the fleshly life to be already his in Christ, 
his in the counsels of God, in the divine idea. 
This knowledge was the ' earnest of the 
Spirit.' (2 Cor. v. 5.) Without it all his 
effort, as it quickened the feeling of self, would 
have deepened the feeling of alienation ; with 
it, as the things behind were forgotten and 
the old man daily died, a virtue not his own 
was being wrought into his life he was be- 
coming the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 

V. 21.) 

In this lay the demonstration of spirit and 
power, (i Cor. ii. 4.) In his own body he 
bore about the dying of the Lord Jesus, that 
the life also of Jesus might be manifest there- 
in. But there was another body, which was 
his as it was Christ's, the body of Christian 
fellowship, where he found such reality of 



1 6 The Witness of God. 

demonstration as mere introspection could not 
give. Here, too, the stigmata of Christ were 
graven ; here the ministration of righteous- 
ness was 'writ large/ not on stone, but on 
tables of the heart and with the Spirit of the 
living God. (2 Cor. iii. 3.) In the Christian 
society a new life was being really lived. To 
this evidence, not to his visions and revela- 
tions, St. Paul constantly reverts; and it is 
one good for all time. For the truth of any 
practical idea the only possible evidence is its 
realisation. As the primary Christian idea is 
that of a moral death into life, as wrought for 
us and in us by God, so its realisation, which is 
the evidence of its truth, lies in Christian love 
a realisation never complete, because for 
ever embracing new matter, yet constantly 
gaining in fulness. All other evidence 
is fleeting and accidental, but this abides. 
Tongues cease, prophecies fail, knowledge 
the mere unrealised idea vanisheth away ; 
but charity never faileth : and in the higher 
life of the Christian society we may recognise 
it and make it our own. Amid the luxury 
and fretfulness, the strife and vainglory, which 



The Witness of God. 17 

so noisily surround us, we are apt to ignore 
it, and thus, while the foundations of practical 
truth are in debate while some are requiring 
a sign, others seeking the wisdom that is in 
word, others asking who will show them any 
good we miss the demonstration which lies 
nearest us, which may become as near as con- 
sciousness itself. Who is there that has not 
known a simple, self-denying Christian, and 
known that if he would, he might become like 
him ? Perhaps, wrapped closely in the fleece 
of conceit, we think lightly of such an one. 
He is not clever, or he has awkward manners, 
or a mean appearance. His bodily presence 
is weak and his speech contemptible. Yet 
his daily life is to him, as it might be to us if 
we would assimilate it, that sufficient evidence 
of God's quickening Spirit, for the lack of 
which perhaps we are all the while passion- 
ately bewailing ourselves. In little, and on a 
narrow stage no wider, it may be, than the 
duties of a sickly teasing household can afford 
he is exhibiting that power of the resurrec- 
tion which still sends healing to the broken- 
hearted, deliverance to the captives and 
C 



1 8 The Witness of God. 

recovery of sight to the blind ; which sends 
the missionary to the heathen, the preacher to 
the poor, the honest student to his struggle 
with the delusions of sense ; because it is the 
spring of that charity which seeketh not her 
own and rejoiceth in the truth. . 

Thus the Church has been the witness of 
Christ in another than the conventional sense : 
not as the depositary of a dogma reflecting 
but faintly that original intuition of the 
crucified and risen One, in the light of which 
the blind Saul saw the barrier between Jew 
and Gentile, between man and God, dis- 
appear ; but as the slowly articulated ex- 
pression of the crucified and risen life. The 
original intuition, depending, as it seems to 
have done, on peculiar personal and historical 
conditions, could never be reproduced in its 
native form and force. It had to be translated 
into other terms, which might make it avail- 
able for men who could only see through the 
eyes of the Jewish and Greek enlightenment 
of their time. In this altered state it con- 
stantly required new supports of the under- 
standing, and suggested new deductions, 



The Witness of God. 19 

which have gradually constituted the theology 
of the Church. I do not dispute the value of 
this theology. Most men, who think on such 
matters, are so steeped in it, that they cannot 
read St. Paul intelligently at all, without 
translating him into its formulae ; and to them 
it commonly affords that intellectual expres- 
sion without which they could scarcely sustain 
themselves in the Christian life. But we 
must not confound the formula with the 
reality. Dogmatic theology is quite other 
than the Christian life, quite other than the 
practical idea on which that life rests. 
The result of their confusion has been that 
while men such as Spinoza, who had more 
real hold on the idea, and better under- 
stood the spiritual import of the Christian 
resurrection than the dogmatic theologians, 
have been reckoned, and driven to reckon 
themselves, aliens from the Christian Church, 
the simplicity of the idea itself has been so 
lost in artificial schemes of salvation, that, 
apart from these, men cannot recognise it. 
Thus, to say that the Christian life issues from 
the idea of a denial of self, as eternally 



c 2 



2O The Witness of God. 

wrought out by God but to be renewed by us, 
and that just because it so issues, it is a life 
justified and sanctified, though really a return 
to the simplicity of Christ, seems to many 
pious men a substitution of moral philosophy 
for Christianity proper. It is not thus that 
they account to themselves for the work of 
the quickening Spirit in and around them. 
On the other hand, there are men of pure life, 
holding heroic warfare with the sensual ac- 
quiescence of conventional religion, to whom 
such a statement seems only a refinement on 
theological fictions, which they reject. Our 
prime concern, however, is not with the 
word, not with the theory of either sort of 
men, but with the power ; and this is the 
power of a present and spiritual resur- 
rection. In their flesh, i.e., in their common 
affections as transformed into a hunger fcr 
God or goodness, the life of Christ is here and 
now manifest (2 Cor. iv. 1 1) ; though with the 
understanding they thrust it far from them ; 
though the one sort externalise it in a mira- 
culous transaction or event, and the others 
cannot find in it, thus externalised, the source 



The Witness of God. 2 1 

of their own zeal for man. If we are sincerely 
sighing for a witness of God's work in man, 
the denial of it in word will matter little to us 
when the affirmation is present in power. 

It is in Christendom that, according to the 
providence of God, this power has been ex- 
hibited ; not indeed either adequately or ex- 
clusively, but most fully. In the religions of 
the East the idea of a death to the fleshly 
self, as the end of the merely human, and the 
beginning of a divine life, has not been want- 
ing ; nor, as a mere idea has it been very 
different from that which is the ground of 
Christianity. But there it has never been 
realised in action, either intellectually or 
morally. The idea of the withdrawal from 
sense has remained abstract. It has not 
issued in such a struggle with the superficial 
view of things, as has gradually constituted 
the science of Christendom. In like manner 
that of self-renunciation has never emerged 
from the esoteric state It has had no outlet 
into the life of charity, but a back-way always 
open into the life of sensual licence, and has 
been finally mechanised in the artificial 



22 The Witness of God. 

vacancy of the dervish or fakir. We are not 
on this account to assume, as hasty and 
passionate theologians would do, that God 
reveals Himself to man in some other form 
than reason, or that He suddenly set up the 
Christian Church as a miraculous institution 
owing nothing to the other influences of the 
world, within which all is light, without it 
all darkness ; within which He works unto 
salvation, without it not at all, or only to 
condemn and to destroy. Such an assump- 
tion is a short cut to conviction which finally 
leads, as we have daily proof, through a weary 
round of unbelief. Christianity is cheaply 
honoured, when it is made exceptional : God 
is not wisely trusted when declared un- 
intelligible. ' Such honour rooted in dis- 
honour stands ; such faith unfaithful makes 
us falsely true.' ' 

God is for ever reason ; and His communi- 
cation, His revelation, is reason : not, however, 
abstract reason, but reason as taking a body 

1 ' His honour rooted in dishonour stood, 
And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true.' 

TENNYSON, Elaine. 



The Witness of God. 23 

from, and giving life to, the whole system of 
experience which makes the history of man. 
The revelation, therefore, is not made in a 
day, or a generation, or a century. The 
divine mind touches, modifies, becomes the 
mind of man, through a process of which 
mere intellectual conception is only the 
beginning, but of which the gradual comple- 
ment is an unexhausted series of spiritual 
discipline through all the agencies of social 
life. In the nations outside Christendom, as 
a matter of history, this complement has not 
been vouchsafed, or only in the most limited 
and elementary way. Hence the idea of 
death into life, which is the seed of the divine 
in man, has there lain barren. It has con- 
tinued bare ' grain.' God in His wisdom has 
not yet given it a body. Yet is it the same 
seed which, as sown in Jewish prophecy and 
Greek philosophy, was the germ of the life 
of Christendom. The shortcomings of Greek 
philosophy are, indeed, obvious enough. 
They distinguish it essentially from Christian 
philosophy (though the advocates of a 
thoughtless religiosity would involve both in 



24 The Witness of God. 

a common condemnation), inasmuch as the 
latter has a far higher form of practical 
spiritual life for its basis. But we must not 
confound the genuine philosophy of Greece 
with that wisdom of the world which St. 
Paul knew to be foolishness with God. It 
differed from this as much as now-a- 
days the faithful quest after hidden truth 
differs from the dialectic with which the 
enlightened man of the world flatters his own 
conceit and confutes his neighbour's ; and to 
include it under St. Paul's condemnation 
would be as unfair as to apply to the prophets 
his view of the carnality of Jewish religion. 
Greek philosophy, like Jewish prophecy, was 
essentially a struggle upwards from what 
seems to what is, from sense to reason, from 
the flesh to the spirit. One as much as the 
other issued from an active idea, which is not 
to be regarded as unchristian, but as an un- 
developed Christianity. Each too had its 
practical or social side. If St. Paul all over 
the Roman world, where he carried the 
Gospel of Christ, had not found, by river 
sides or elsewhere, places ' where prayer was 



The Witness of God. 25 



wont to be made/ social prayer, prayer to 
God in spirit and truth, which is the true con- 
tinuance of prophecy where now would have 
been Christian worship ? If, again, there had 
not survived, under the organised selfishness 
of the empire, the idea of self-sacrificing 
citizenship, which the communities of Greece 
had originated and its philosophy expressed 
and expanded, where now would be Christian 
fellowship ? The glory of Christianity is not 
that it excludes, but that it comprehends ; 
not that it came of a sudden into the world, 
or that it is given complete in a particular 
institution, or can be stated complete in a 
particular form of words ; but that it is the 
expression of a common spirit, which is 
gathering together all things in one. We 
cannot say of it, lo, here it is, or lo, there : it 
is now, but was not then. We go backward, 
but we cannot reach its source ; we look for- 
ward, but we cannot foresee its final power. 
We do it wrong in making it depend on a 
past event, and in identifying it with the 
creed of a certain age, or with a visible 
society established at a certain time. What 



26 The Witness of God. 

we thus seem to gain in definiteness, we lose 
in permanence of conviction ; for importunate 
enquiry will show us that the event can only 
be approached through a series of fluctuating 
interpretations of it, behind which its original 
nature cannot be clearly ascertained ; that the 
' visible church ' of one age is never essentially 
the same as that of the next ; that it is only 
in word, or to the intellectually dead, that the 
creed of the present is the same as the creed 
of the past 

It is doubtless true that the system of 
practical ideas, or of life resting on ideas, 
which we call Christianity, though its roots 
are as old as mankind, would not exist but for 
definite past events and actions and personal 
influences, and that among these some far 
outweigh all others in importance. There 
came One who spake as never man spake, yet 
proclaimed Himself the son of man, and was 
conscious in the very meanness of human life, 
in its final shame of death, of the communica- 
tion of God to Himself, and through Him to 
mankind. There came another, who, bring- 
ing with him certain ' metaphysical ' concep- 



The Witness of God. 27 

tions, the result of the philosophy of the time, 
found them in this Man, whom death could 
not hold, suddenly become real : who in 
spirit, yet with a light above the brightness of 
the sun, saw manifested in Him that which 
Philo and the Stoics knew must be ; even the 
heavenly Man in whose death all barriers 
were broken down, that all in the participation 
of His life might be equal before God. ' The 
riches of the glory of this mystery ' he 
preached among the Gentiles, even ' Christ in 
them the hope of glory.' Thus, in sober 
ecstasy, with visions and revelations and 
speaking with tongues in upper chambers, 
where men breaking bread at their common 
social meals felt that Christ was among them, 
and that it was His body they were breaking 
and communicating by the foolishness of 
preaching he founded the Christian Churches. 
In a generation or two the intuition of the 
present Christ, which Paul even in his lifetime 
seems to have been unable to convey to 
others as it was to himself, had faded away. 
In its stead came the belief in past events, or 
in present mysterious transactions, external 



28 The Witness of God, 

to the man, which had to be stated in a creed. 
For the spontaneous brotherhood, conscious 
of itself as one body, and that body Christ's, 
even as the mind that dwelt in it was ' The 
Lord, the Spirit/ Himself (2 Cor. iii. 17), 
there arose a regulated and increasingly 
artificial society, in which the voice of the 
Spirit was represented by the authoritative 
utterance of a bishop. For the breaking of 
bread at the social meal, in token of that self- 
abandoning fellowship of each with the other 
as members of Christ's body, which was the 
perpetual renewal of His sacrifice, for this 
sacrament of pure sociality was substituted 
an exceptional communication of His body to 
the individual, no longer purely moral, but 
dependent on material conditions, and media- 
tion of the priest. 

Thus Christ, if I may use the expression, 
was gradually externalised and mystified. 
The miraculous overpowered the moral and 
spiritual, as much as, in the view of St. Paul, 
the moral and spiritual overpowered the mira- 
culous. In this way, while the Christian 
religion gained in immediate power over the 



The Witness of God. 29 

world and adapted itself to men, whose ap- 
prehensions were too gross for the Pauline 
intuition, its finer essence, which could draw 
to itself all knowledge and all goodness, was 
overlaid with signs and wonders and mysteries, 
to which, in the long run, both knowledge and 
the highest goodness must find themselves 
alien. Yet, when it might be thought that 
the life of Christ must already have ceased to 
be a spiritual presence and become a wonder 
of the past more, probably, than two genera- 
tions after St. Paul had gone to his rest there 
arose a disciple, whose very name we know 
not (for he sought not his own glory and pre- 
ferred to hide it under the repute of another), 
who gave that final spiritual interpretation to 
the person of Christ, which has for ever taken 
it out of the region of history and of the 
doubts that surround all past events, to fix it 
in the purified conscience as the immanent 
God. The highest result of ancient philo- 
sophy had been the conception of the world 
as a system of thought, related to God as His 
word or expression, i.e., as the spoken thought 
is related to the man. This conception, how- 



30 The Witness of God. 

ever, great as it was, did not present God 
under moral attributes, nor did it bring Him 
near to the conscience of the individual. 
But in Christ, the writer whom the Church 
calls St. John, saw this divine thought mani- 
festing itself in human life as Truth and Love, 
and that not merely or fully through a past 
visible existence though such existence had 
been vouchsafed as ' a sign ' but through a 
spirit which should dwell in men, drawn 
out of the world, won from sense and the 
flesh, for ever. The presence of this spirit 
was the presence of the Son, so that the 
perfect knowledge and love which subsisted 
from eternity between the Father and the 
Son might be reproduced in men as the 
knowledge of God and love of each other. ' I 
will not leave you orphans/ says the Christ 
of St. John to His disciples, ' I will come to 
you.' (xiv. 1 6, 17.) He thus comes, as the 
context explains, in the spirit of truth. In 
this spirit they are with Him where He is, 
even in the presence of God (xvii. 24), and 
the love wherewith God has loved Him is in 
them, even as He is in them. These who have 



The Witness of God. 31 

been able to receive this saying, in the spiritual 
sight of Christ have seen the Father ; in wor- 
shipping Christ, they have worshipped God 
under the attributes of personal intelligence 
and love. Him whom they have not seen 
with the bodily eye or heard with the hearing 
of the ear, whom they have not approached 
through evidence of their own senses or 
through transmitted evidence of the senses of 
others, they have yet believed and loved, and 
in loving have rejoiced with joy unspeakable 
and full of glory. Such believing love, once 
wrought into the life and character, ' not in 
word but in power,' can survive all shocks of 
criticism, all questions as to historical events. 
It will not indeed despise such questions. 
Rather it will welcome them, as setting it free 
from accidental supports, and teaching it to 
know itself. It needs no evidence of the 
presence of God, or the work of Christ the 
Spirit, for it is that presence and work itself. 
It is the crucifixion of the flesh, it is the new 
life, it is the resurrection of the dead. 

' This is a hard saying,' it may be replied : 
' who can hear it ? ' A God who made us and 



32 The Witness of God. 

knows us, as from without ; a Christ who at 
a certain time did certain miraculous acts on 
our behalf, and who now, having left us cer- 
tain commands, is at the right hand of God 
exalted, to return again at some future time 
and judge us according to our obedience to 
His commands, these, it may be said, are 
intelligible objects. There are strong grounds 
for believing in them, and as believed in they 
influence our actions through fear, and hope, 
and gratitude. But an immanent God, a 
God present in the believing love of Him 
and the brethren, a Christ within us, a con- 
tinuous resurrection, these are mere thoughts 
of our own ; they are not ' objective ; ' if there 
is nothing else to constrain and restrain us, 
we are left to ourselves. 

Present limits do not allow of such lan- 
guage being considered in detail. A little 
reflection may show us that we cannot really 
get outside thought or ourselves, though 
thought may find that it is not merely its 
own, and the self lose its selfishness. It is in 
himself and in his thought, which yet is in 
the truest sense a revelation, and a revelation 



The Witness of God. 33 

through Christian influence, that each one of 
us finds God, if he find Him at all. In those 
who deem otherwise of thought and the self, 
who must put God at a distance, or into a 
mystery, in order to recognise Him ; who hold 
that a revelation which is not through signs 
and wonders, is no revelation at all it is not 
religion but logic which is at fault. Just so 
far as they make their own the Christian doc- 
trine of the indwelling spirit, whose quicken- 
ing, enlightening, interceding power is the 
presence of Christ, even as Christ is God, they 
are superior to their own logic. So long, 
however, as their dependence on it seems to 
themselves to continue, they will need evi- 
dence of God's operation in past or present 
miracle, in an inspired book or in sacraments, 
and it is matter of thankfulness that the co- 
gency of such evidence should be what it is. 
Let no one rashly tamper with it. Rather let 
us make our own calling and election sure. 
Let those of us who are seeking, and perhaps 
intellectually finding, a nearer and surer wit- 
ness, take heed that it be to us not in word 
but in power. Let us beware lest, like the 
D 



The Witness of God. 



enlightened Christians of Corinth, professing 
to be spiritual, we be found carnal. 

St. Paul, as was observed at the outset, 
does not bid these men renounce their claims 
to ' spirituality,' but act according to it. He 
bates no jot of his ideal gospel. The sense 
of the discrepancy between the idea and its 
realisation, which the care of the churches 
forced on him, only moves him to a re-asser- 
tion of the idea as alone giving impulse to the 
realisation. Even to the Galatians, bewitched 
with Jewish ritualism, it is still, 'we live in 
the Spirit ; therefore let us walk in the Spirit.' 
(Gal. v. 25.) Let our actual conduct be 
spiritual, even as is our ideal life. So to the 
Corinthians, translating the Spirit's privilege 
into vain-glory and licence, it is still, ' All 
things are yours, but ye are not your own ; 
therefore glorify God in your body and in 
your spirit, which are his.' (i Cor. iii. 22, 
vi. 19, 20.) From the prison (to the Philip- 
pians) the voice is still the same, ' God worketh 
in us : therefore let us work out our own salva- 
tion with fear and trembling.' (Phil. ii. 12, 13.) 

This work, which is at once God's and our 



The Witness of God. 35 

own, and in which therefore His presence is 
witnessed not with signs from without, but 
with demonstration from within, is summed 
up in the one word, Charity, or Christian love. 
Mere knowledge puffeth up, as St. Paul says, 
but charity edifieth. Charity, that is to say, 
is constructive. In the temple of Christian 
fellowship, where no man seeks his own, but 
every one another's good ; in the fabric of 
true knowledge, which without figure of speech 
is the work of the same spiritual yearning 
charity is building a presence-chamber of God, 
which, though filled with His fulness, may yet, 
so far as the same charity is in us, be no other 
than the chamber of our own heart. No one, 
it is often said, doubts of his own existence ; 
nor does any one practically doubt of the 
correlative existence of God, though the no- 
tion of such existence is compassed with diffi- 
culties of language and logic which lead some 
to deny it in word. But as it is little for me 
to know that I am, unless I know what I am, 
so the mere consciousness of God, to which 
upon analysis we find that the speech even of 
the ' Atheist ' testifies, is bootless if it is merely 



36 The Witness of God. 

that of an unknown power beyond oneself. 
Is this a loving and understanding, a recon- 
ciled and reconciling power? That is the 
question, and it is a question to which the one 
abiding answer is the life of charity. In an- 
ticipation indeed, or by 'an earnest of the 
Spirit,' it must be answered to begin with, in 
order to render that life possible ; and this 
preliminary answer, as it came to St. Paul's 
converts in a sudden light of intellectual con- 
viction, so to us, who have had a Christian 
education, should be furnished by ideas which 
have lain about us from our infancy, and 
which later reflection ought to have made 
intelligently our own. It is ill for us, if in 
youth, by looseness of talk or deed, we let 
our hold on them slacken for an instant. But 
their mere retention as ideas is impossible. 
Their power must give them a body in labour 
for truth and the brethren, or it will cease to 
be, and with it will vanish the presence of 
which they are the first disclosure. Amid a 
world of forgetfulness and decay, in the sight 
of his own shortcomings and limitations, or 
on the edge of the tomb, he alone who has 



The Witness of God. 37 

found his soul in losing it, who in singleness 
of mind has lived in order to love and under- 
stand, will find that the God who is near to 
him as his own conscience has a face of light 
and love. 

There is a danger, as I am painfully 
aware, lest, after all, this should seem ' a tale 
of little meaning, though the words be strong ; ' 
lest this realisation of the idea of a loving 
God, which is to prove its truth and power, 
should seem very remote from reality. How, 
it may be asked, is this life of charity to be 
attained, either in its more obviously prac- 
tical or in its more philosophic form ? What 
likeness to it has the easy life we lead here, or 
the after life of respectable citizenship, which, 
as cut out for us by circumstances, we are 
likely to lead for the rest of our days ? Few 
of us have faculty or opportunity to be philo- 
sophers or missionaries or preachers to the 
poor, and if we had, is it certain that we 
should find ourselves much nearer the ideal 
life ? Would not each of those high callings 
turn out to be an affair of habit, very much like 
any other ; requiring peculiar gifts, no doubt, 



38 The Witness of God. 

yet apt to be debased by egotism in propor- 
tion to the success attained by these gifts ? 

Such language has a partial truth, and it 
is a truth which is likely to come near home 
to young men, who have been shaken in the 
simple faith of childhood, but have as yet 
learnt little from the discipline of life. Con- 
scious of this, apprehensive of that most fatal 
scepticism which attends the reaction from an 
ideal found to be hollow, and knowing too 
well with how little of personal example he 
can enforce his words, a teacher here will be 
apt to speak seldom, and below his convic- 
tion, of the possibility in common action of 
renewing the self-sacrifice of the eternal Son. 
Yet the least experienced among us must 
know that it is not in the outward cast of a 
life, but in the way of living it, that the spirit 
of a man is shown, and that there are those 
about him in whose character, though with 
no outward mark of distinction, and perhaps 
under a surface of yet unconquered weak- 
nesses, the love of God and the brethren is 
the ruling power. All he has to do is to 
share in the higher spirit . of such men. He 



The Witness of God. 39 

need not make a rush after the heroic, or seek 
to jump out of his circumstances. The end to 
be attained is indeed infinite ; but he need not 
therefore vainly try to swell his own effort to 
a like infinity, for it is already attained for 
him. The sacrifice has been offered, the goal 
has been won. God is for ever perfect light 
and love. It is for us, under the limitations 
of a petty human life, to take such personal 
hold on this perfection as may fit us for its 
fuller communication when, in His good time, 
these limitations are taken away. To do this 
requires, doubtless, much thought and prayer 
and travail, but not a revolution in our sur- 
roundings. We may be doing it here and 
now, if (in the words of the text) ' with sin- 
cerity and truth ' we keep the Christian feast. 
Let us consider, finally, for a moment the 
special application of these words to ourselves. 
It will at once be understood that ' Pass- 
over ' here means the Paschal Lamb. Under 
this figure Christ is several times presented 
to us in the New Testament : probably so in 
the verse of the Revelation which speaks of 
the Lamb slain from the foundation of the 



4Q The Witness of God. 

world, and in the Baptist's utterance, ' Be- 
hold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the 
sin of the world ; ' certainly so in the passage 
of St. John which applies to Christ the rule as 
to the paschal larnb, ' a bone of Him shall not 
be broken,' and in that of the First Epistle 
ascribed to St. Peter, which speaks of the 
' blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish 
and without spot, fore-ordained before the 
foundation of the world.' It is necessary fur- 
ther, in order to understand the full force of 
the text, to remember that the paschal lamb 
was not only sacrificed, but eaten, and that 
the eating of it constituted the paschal supper 
or feast. As then the sacrifice of Christ is 
presented under the figure of the slaying of 
the lamb, so our continuous participation in 
His sacrificed person is presented as the keep- 
ing of the feast. The sacrifice is already 
made made for us from eternity ; the Lamb 
has been slain from the foundation of the 
world : but we have to perpetuate the sacri- 
fice in ourselves. We are, as it is put under 
a like figure elsewhere, to eat the flesh of 
Christ, as the Jews ate of the sacrificed lamb 



The Witness of God. 41 

Christians are in some way to make the per- 
son of Christ their own. They do this, the 
feast is kept for ever by the Christian society, 
in the life of charity. The conditions on our 
part, as individuals, of joining in the feast are 
sincerity and truth. These are the unleavened 
bread without which we may not feed upon 
the Lamb, but with which we may ; and even 
in our life here, secluded from great achieve- 
ments of beneficence, they may surely be ours. 
By ' sincerity ' (stKLKpivsia) here is to be 
understood, I think, perfect openness towards 
God ; that clearness of the soul in which 
nothing interferes with its penetration by the 
divine sunlight. Given this openness on our 
part, Christ, the revealed God, will gradually 
find His way into our souls, not in word but 
in power. We must be clear from vice, clear 
from self-indulgence, clear from self-conceit 
How imperfectly do we attain this clearness, 
yet how can we wonder, till we attain it, that 
we lack the witness of God? We talk, per- 
haps, half-sorrowfully, half-complacently, of 
the demoralising, or unchristianising, ten- 
dencies of modern life. Opinion, it is said, is 



42 The Witness of God. 

fundamentally unsettled ; science keeps en- 
croaching on the old faith ; the lineaments of 
the God whom our fathers worshipped are 
blurred by philosophy ; and meanwhile an 
enlightened Hedonism seems competent to 
answer all practical questions. It is no fault 
of the individual if, amid such influences, he 
loses the thought of God's presence and the 
consciousness of His love, which indeed can 
only be retained by taking refuge in mysteries 
or going out of the world. 

This is the foppery of men who want new 
excuses for old sins. It is still our sins and 
nothing else that separate us from God. Phi- 
losophy and science, to those who seek not to 
talk of them but to know their power, do but 
render His clearness more clear, and the free- 
dom of His service a more perfect freedom. 
His witness grows with time. In great books 
and great examples, in the gathering fulness 
of spiritual utterance which we trace through 
the history of literature, in the self-denying 
love which we have known from the cradle, in 
the \ moralising influences of civil life, in the 
clos.er fellowship of the Christian society, in 



The Witness of Gad* 



the sacramental ordinances which represent 
that fellowship, in common worship, in the 
message of the preachers through which, amid 
diversity of stammering tongues, one spirit 
still speaks here God's sunshine is shed 
abroad without us. If it does not reach 
within the heart, it is because the heart has a 
darkness of its own, some unconquered selfish- 
ness which prevents its relation to Him being 
one of * sincerity and truth.' 

I cannot now trace in detail the forms 
of this selfishness, nor is there much use in 
doing so. They are manifold, doubtless, but 
their source is simple, and subtlety is wasted 
in their unravelment. The grosser among 
them, I hope, are little known among us 
that, for instance, which the world lightly calls 
looseness, and which religious people are apt 
to call impurity. Neither the term of extenu- 
ation nor that of reproach fully expresses the 
baseness of that hideous wrong against Christ's 
body the body of human fellowship which 
outrages it in its tenderest part. Let no one 
dream that he can be guilty of such wrong, 
and yet find the loving presence within him, 



44 The- Witness of God. 

of which that fellowship is the true convey- 
ance. If he has been guilty of it but once, let 
him be sure that if he would have deliverance 
from its moral result, he must indeed seek it 
carefully, and with tears. Most of us, how- 
ever, have perhaps more to fear from a more 
refined self-indulgence, from habits of luxury 
or indolence, and from nameless desires after 
all things sweet and pleasant, which because 
they do not issue in overt vice are counted 
harmless, but which yet, as in our heart of 
hearts we know, keep us off from God, and 
from that pure self- renouncing spirit which is 
His manifestation among men. Probably we 
surround them with a fence of intellectual self- 
excusing jugglery, which may in time become 
impenetrable to the assault of that higher 
reason which speaks through our own con- 
science, and through the doctrine or example 
of all the great teachers of mankind. To this 
jugglery, however, we may have one answer 
always ready. Prayer is a wish referred to 
God, and the possibility of such reference, 
save in matters of mere indifference, is the 
test of the purity of the wish. Can we then, 



The Witness of God. 45 

let us ask ourselves, pray to God with an 
enlightened conscience for our continuance 
in the habit, or for the satisfaction of the 
desire in question ? If not, let us pluck 
them off, and cast them from us. To do so, 
indeed, may be the work of years ; but once 
let the higher resolve be in force, and the 
discipline of life will gradually neutralise or 
transmute the passions which thwart the 
single mind. 

Another cloak of darkness which the soul 
hugs in exclusion of the light of God is self- 
conceit. In an ' intellectual society ' every 
one knows this, as he knows the plague of 
his own heart. It is something very different 
from that which is often ill denounced as ' in- 
tellectual pride,' but which is really the 
proper virtue of those who are not children of 
the bondwoman but of the free. Such pride, 
indeed, is no other than the aspiration of 
reason to attain its fulness in God, which is 
the only source of true religion. Yet who 
that knows anything of such aspiration does 
not know also how perpetually it is crossed 
by the importunities of the pitiful earthly self, 



46 The Witness of God. 

claiming credit to itself for the aspiration ? 
Only by the consciousness that we are 
* workers together with God,' since the best 
we can do for ourselves has been done for us 
by Him, and by the consequent growing ab- 
sorption in great ideas and great causes, can 
this haunting presence be laid. The higher, 
indeed, the effort with which it associates 
itself, the more readily is it got rid of. It 
prefers baser company, and generally where 
is least intellectual aspiration, there is most 
intellectual conceit. Is it not so with us ? In 
this place how much cleverness, and more 
conceit of cleverness, goes to how little true 
spiritual achievement. The reason is plain. 
We stand by the water, but it is not our real 
mind to drink. Our vocation keeps us in 
the presence of the best thoughts of the 
greatest men. We are, or may be, conver- 
sant with the sifted wisdom of the ages. We 
are in the highway and mid-current of 
spiritual progress. Yet are we not ourselves 
standing still, or moving in a trivial round of 
intellectual luxuries ? Is not our heart shut 
against the voice that calls us out of our- 



The Witness of God. 47 

selves, and busy with the idol of its own self- 
decoration ? How much of our real interest 
is going to the quest after truth and God, 
how much to the attainment of skill in writ- 
ing clever articles and saying 'good things,' 
which have no result but to make our 
brethren offend, and to surround ourselves 
with an atmosphere of irreverence and un- 
reality over which God's Spirit broods in 
vain ? He that seeketh findeth what he 
seeks ; and if in reading and thinking we 
look merely for a testimony to our own 
cleverness, we shall find probably what we 
seek, but no higher witness. We know that 
egotism has to be outwardly suppressed, if 
ordinary good fellowship is to be possible. 
Much more must it be mortified and raised 
again to an altered life, if we would attain 
the fellowship of the Son, and with it the 
spirit of adoption and the truth which makes 
us free. 

If this riddance of selfishness had to be 
complete before we could have any share in 
the Christian feast, any participation in the 
eternal sacrifice, we might indeed despair. 



48 The Witness of God. 

We should be like Saul, still struggling with 
a body of death, of which he could not be 
relieved under the Law. But for the Chris- 
tian, as we have seen, the sacrifice is already 
complete in God, and is being gradually re- 
enacted in the true charities of life, in a 
Church invisible, but operative all around us. 
In it the Spirit already dwells with us, and is 
striving to be in us. Each weakest effort on 
our part is answered by His prevailing 
motion. If we do but open our hearts 
at a single point, the spiritual water and 
blood will find an entrance, will purge our 
egotism and complete the sacrifice. In this 
confidence, 'as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing/ 
we shall go freely on our appointed way, 
knowing that it may become to us a discipline 
of God, and that there is no way so beaten but 
that things true and honest and just and 
lovely may be found in it. The Christian 
ordinances are at hand for our refreshment, 
and if we are wise we shall not neglect them. 
We cannot afford to individualise ourselves 
even in respect of outward symbols. We do 
wrong to ourselves and them, if we allow any 



The Witness of God. 49 

intellectual vexation at the mode in which 
they may be presented to us to prevent us 
from their due use. If we are really seeking 
to live as members one of another in the 
general assembly of the first-born, why do we 
not gladly approach the table where in the 
simplest of all rites that mutual membership 
is expressed ? We shall not value such 
expression the less, because to us it is only 
an expression. It is in the hidden life of the 
Christian society, as we hold in pureness, in 
knowledge, in long-suffering, in love un- 
feigned that the true table of the Lord is 
spread, and His cup for ever flows. Here is 
the bloodless altar, the continued sacrifice, 
because here is the perpetual Agape, the 
communion of good-will. To this spiritual 
feast, in which the God-man gradually im- 
parts Himself to the soul, the ' Holy Com- 
munion ' of bread and wine is related as a 
mode of speech to thought. As seasonable 
utterance is needed to give strength and 
definiteness to a thought, to bring it back to 
the individual when he has almost lost it, to 
quicken the consciousness of its being shared 
E 



5O The Witness of God. 

by others ; so may this ordinance strengthen 
and refresh the thought of our common 
spiritual interest in God. Its primitive social 
character we cannot indeed recall, any more 
than the ecstatic vision of Christ among them 
which was granted to the early disciples ; yet 
still to us, if with hearts pure of vice and 
humbly set on living loyally as Christian 
citizens, we partake of the symbolic supper, 
without vision or miracle or mystery, but in 
moral power, God in Christ a loving and 
understanding God may be known in the 
breaking of bread. 



FAITH. 



2 COR. v. 7. 
' We walk by faith, not by sight! 

1 "OR the word translated 'Faith,' as used 
in the New Testament, it would be 
impossible, according to any fair method of 
interpretation, to assign a single meaning. 
Between its various senses a connection can 
no doubt be traced, but from Faith, as the 
simple recognition of the claim of Jesus to be 
the Messiah the sense in which it is com- 
monly used in the Acts and often in the 
Gospels to that Faith which, according to 
St Paul's conception, is the communication 
of the Divine Spirit, and by which Christ, as 
the revealed God, dwells in our hearts, there 
is an interval which no single definition can 
cover. But difficult as it would be by any 



5 2 Faith. 

one formula to represent all that the word 
conveys, even as used by St. Paul alone, it is 
less difficult to state what it does not convey. 
Throughout the New Testament, as has often 
been pointed out, its meaning is never deter- 
mined by that opposition to reason, on which 
it might almost be said that its whole force 
depends as used alike by theologians and 
men of science in the literature of the day. 
Whatever may be the validity of this oppo- 
sition in itself, as applied to the interpretation 
of the New Testament, it is a misleading sub- 
stitute for the truly scriptural antithesis be- 
tween Faith and Sight. ' Because thou hast 
seen, -thou hast believed ; blessed are they 
that have not seen and yet have believed,' 
says our Lord to Thomas according to the 
story in the fourth Gospel ; and under the 
same idea throughout that Gospel we find 
the true or highest faith represented as that 
which by a purely spiritual act takes Christ, 
as the manifestation of God, into the soul 
without waiting for conviction by sensible 
signs. Such faith is typified in Nathaniel, who 
accepts Christ as the Son of God by an imme- 



Faith. 53 

diate spiritual recognition in response to that 
by which Christ recognises him who knows 
as he is known and who in consequence is 
promised under a figure an ultimate intuition 
of some free commerce between God and the 
perfected man. It is typified again in the 
Samaritans who believe Christ on His mere 
word, and in the ' nobleman ' to whom our 
Lord says by way of trial, ' except ye see 
signs and wonders, ye will not believe/ but in 
whom He discerns the higher faith which can 
accept the simple word ' Thy son liveth.' Con- 
trasted with it is the hardness of heart which 
asks for some sign, as convincing as the 
miraculous manna, that it ' may see and be- 
lieve.' Those who so ask, instead of a sign 
are told of the necessity, in order to true spiri- 
tual life, of that participation in Christ's self- 
surrendered will which is figured by the eating 
His flesh and drinking His blood. When 
some of the disciples, understanding the figure 
literally, murmur at the hard saying, they 
are only warned more emphatically against 
the ' carnal ' mind which, as it had prompted 
the demand for a sign, so likewise prevented 



54 Faith. 

a true understanding of Christ's words. ' It 
is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh ' or, as 
we might say, the satisfaction of the senses 
' profiteth nothing. The words that I have 
spoken, they are Spirit.' Being Spirit, they 
could only, to use St. Paul's phrase, be spiri- 
tually discerned. ' The natural man ' the 
man who walked by sight, not by faith, and 
therefore required a sign could not receive 
them. They were foolishness to him. 

It is characteristic, no doubt, of the 
fourth Gospel that, while thus opposing the 
sensible to the spiritual and representing the 
highest faith as independent of signs, it yet 
insists on the sensible evidence which God 
gave of Himself as manifested In Christ. 
The words with which the Johannine epistle 
opens ' That which we have seen with our 
eyes, and our hands have handled of the 
Word of life, declare we unto you ' have a 
softened echo throughout the Gospel. ' The 
Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, 
and we beheld His glory.' ' This beginning 
of miracles did Jesus, and manifested forth 
His glory.' To Martha, hesitating to have 



Faith. 55 

the stone removed from her brother's grave, 
Jesus says that ' if she will believe, she shall 
see the glory of God ; ' and again to Philip, 
' He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.' 
Thus an accommodation is effected between 
the traditional belief in Jesus as the Messiah, 
who has proved His Messianic office by mira- 
culous signs, and the consciousness of God as 
a spirit revealed not in signs but in the faith 
of the spiritual man. Faith in its highest 
form did not need to wait for miraculous 
signs ; where it was wholly wanting, no such 
signs could create it ; yet they had been 
granted out of mercy to those who, though 
not of the world, were still in it. Even then, 
it was only an antecedent faith that could 
read them aright as a manifestation of eternal 
truths, as an utterance of the Word which 
was from the beginning. To the unbelieving, 
to those who sought honour one of another, 
not that which cometh of God only, they re- 
mained mere wonders, not a medium for the 
Spirit that quickeneth. 

With St. Paul the freedom of faith from 
dependence on sensible signs is still more 



56 Faith. 

marked. With St. John, as we have seen, 
the relation of faith to miracle is not indeed 
that of effect to cause : faith is rather the 
condition of the significance of the miraculous 
sign : still the sign elicits and strengthens a 
faith already there. Those who believe see, 
and seeing believe more fully and surely. In 
St. Paul we do not find even such secondary 
dependence of faith upon miraculous evi- 
dence. The relation of signs to faith is rather 
that of an effect. He regards faith as making 
its sign in the ' manifestation of the Spirit 
and of power' among the Christian congre- 
gations, but he never treats anything sensible 
as its source or even its occasion. It works 
from within outwards : it is not conveyed 
within from any source external to itself. Its 
source is the Spirit of God, and itself is that 
Spirit, as conveyed to us in the form of an 
earnest or first-fruits, under such limitations 
as the earthly tabernacle, the bondage of 
corruption, still imposes. Of the mode of 
conveyance, as he conceived it, St. Paul 
tells us little. ' Faith cometh by hearing ' 
by the Spirit of God, as revealed in one man, 



Faith. 57 

awakening an answer from the same Spirit, 
hitherto silent, in another. On the import of 
the message conveyed, as a promise of de- 
liverance from sin and of the reconciliation of 
men with God, and through Him with each 
other, he insists much. For signs by which 
the divine authority of the message should 
be attested, as distinct from its import, he 
does not seem to have seen the necessity. 
He had indeed ' received,' as he tells us, the 
traditional account of our Lord's last supper 
with the disciples; of His announcement to 
them of ' the new covenant in His blood ' ; of 
His death for our sins ; of His burial, and 
resurrection on the third day. How much 
else he had received of the tradition after- 
wards embodied in the Gospels we have no 
means of knowing. But he never appeals to 
any miraculous events of our Lord's life not 
even to the resurrection as evidence in the 
sense which later theology has attached to the 
word. He does not demand our faith in cer- 
tain truths ' above reason ' on the ground of 
miraculous proofs of divine authority given by 
a revealer of these truths. The resurrection 



58 Faith. 

of Christ is to him not evidence of a reve- 
lation, but the thing revealed. The death of 
the believer to sin, which becomes a new 
life unto God, he regards as part of the same 
process by which Christ died -and rose again 
a process continued in the mighty deeds 
wrought in the Christian congregation, and to 
be completed in the deliverance of the ' crea- 
ture itself from the bondage of corruption 
into the glorious liberty of the children of 
God.' All is one continued ' ministration of 
the Spirit' an unveiling of God in the world 
and in the consciousness of man. That is the 
only revelation of which St. Paul knows. 
Faith is not an acceptance of such revelation 
upon evidence : it is the first stage of the 
revelation itself, of which love and knowledge 
are to be the completion. It is the awakening 
of the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry 
Abba, Father, but which has still ' no language 
but a cry.' It is opposed indeed to the 
' wisdom of this world,' but is itself the first 
communication of what St. Paul calls the 
'reason of Christ,' which again is identified 



Faith. 59 

with the ' Spirit that searcheth all things, yea, 
the deep things of God.' 

Though most of us have been hearing and 
reading St. Paul's words from our childhood, 
language of this kind is apt to strike us as 
unmeaning. It seems as if we could not re- 
duce it to statements which should be either 
speculatively true or have any practical bear- 
ing on our own lives. Thus we either leave 
it aside altogether, or translate it into terms 
which have become the current coin of theo- 
logical controversy, but in which its native 
significance is more or less completely lost. 
St. Paul's theology, founded on a personal 
experience in the light of which he inter- 
preted the relations of man to God, inevi- 
tably changed its character in becoming a 
popular creed. Such terms as forgiveness, 
reconciliation, and salvation, instead of repre- 
senting experiences of the believer processes 
of his spiritual life came to represent cer- 
tain divine transactions, in which the believer 
had no personal part, though through faith 
he had the benefit of them in the acquisition 



60 Faith. 

of final happiness. The death and resur- 
rection of Christ ceased to be looked upon as 
perpetually re-enacted in the surrender of 
the fleshly self and the substitution for it of 
a new man in the moral life. They became 
past events by which certain blessings had 
been obtained for us or divine testimony 
given to an authority claiming our obedience. 
The identification of the believer with Christ 
was no longer realised through a conscious- 
ness operative in the Christian society, but 
was supposed to be effected in some mode, 
mystical not moral, by the sacraments. The 
gift of the Spirit, instead of being understood 
as that recognition of an eternal relationship 
between God and man which carries with it 
a new insight into the things of God and a 
new energy of love, was reduced to a super- 
natural agency guiding the utterance of 
certain men and the government of the 
Church. 

Just in so far as what had been according 
to the Pauline view the realities of the Christian 
life were relegated to a region of mystery 
external to the Christian himself, ' Faith ' 



Faith. 6 1 

too sank to a lower significance. With St. 
Paul it is the consciousness of the life hidden 
with Christ in God as it becomes under the 
conditions of another life which we now live in 
the flesh in the flesh, as he would say, but 
not after the flesh. Faith is no more faith in 
this sense, when the life of Christ is no longer 
regarded as one which the believer in any 
real sense himself lives. It becomes merely 
the condition upon which the benefit of a cer- 
tain ' opus operatum ' is extended to him. 
The nature of this condition has been con- 
ceived in various ways, implying various 
degrees of true moral value. Having come 
to be understood as no more than an accept- 
ance of the authority of the Church and 
obedience to its rules, it was restored by 
Luther to the meaning of an assurance of 
sonship in Christ, founded on personal expe- 
rience. This was so far a gain, but it did not 
carry with it most Christians would say that 
it would have been pernicious if it had carried 
with it any change in the view of man's 
redemption as achieved, by past historical 
events. The death and resurrection were not 



62 Faith. 

interpreted into present realities within the 
experience of the believer. They continued to 
be looked upon as mysterious transactions, in 
their intrinsic nature incomprehensible, by 
which forgiveness and salvation had been ob- 
tained for us ; and in consequence the results 
thus obtained could not be regarded as pro- 
perly processes of the moral or spiritual life. 
In ordinary Protestant theology, forgiveness 
is still something else than the moral act of 
putting off the old man ; salvation something 
else than putting on the new. That forgive- 
ness and salvation should be regarded not as 
something earned by the individual for himself, 
but as the free gift of God, is no doubt an 
essential point in the Gospel which St. Paul 
preached. On any other view it would be 
another gospel which, indeed, as he might 
have said, would be not another but no 
gospel at all. But a free forgiveness, an un- 
earned salvation, need not on that ac- 
count be other than states into which by the 
self-communication of God the human spirit 
is brought ; and we are nearer to the mind of 
St. Paul when we consider them as such states 



Faith. 63 

which, in the life of faith or life according to 
the spirit, become ours, than when we look 
on them as external blessings, won for us by 
the crucified and risen Christ, and which Faith 
is the condition of our appropriating. 

Did not St. Paul then, it will be asked, 
regard the death and resurrection of Christ as 
'objective' facts events which had taken 
place quite independently of any change in 
his own mind and in virtue of which he, or 
any one else who would believe, might be 
justified and saved? Undoubtedly he did ; 
but his attitude towards them was not that of 
a man believing certain events to have hap- 
pened upon evidence. He seemed to himself 
to die daily and rise again with Christ, and it 
was this moral and personal experience that 
gave reality in his eyes to the supposed 
historical events,' bringing the forgiveness 
and reconciliation which were involved in 
Christ's death and resurrection within the 
sphere of his own consciousness, and leaving 
no room for faith in the secondary sense of 
an acceptance of certain propositions as true 
upon trust. To him therefore that difficulty 



64 Faith. 

did not exist which theological controversy 
inevitably raises for the modern mind. The 
difficulty is shortly this. 

On the one hand, we are called upon to 
regard Faith as the condition of our attaining 
the highest spiritual life as that which makes 
the difference between the man who is as God 
would have him to be and the man who is not. 
If we are honest with ourselves, we shall admit 
that something best called Faith a prevailing 
conviction of our presence to God and His to 
us, of His gracious mind towards us, working 
in and with and through us, of our duty to 
our fellow-men as our brethren in Him has 
been the source of whatever has been best in 
us and in our deeds. If we have enough ex- 
perience and sympathy to interpret fairly the 
life of the world around us, we shall admit 
that faith of this sort is the salt of the earth. 
Through it, below the surface of circumstance 
and custom, humanity is being renewed day 
by day, and unless our heart is sealed by self- 
ishness and sophistry, though we may not 
consciously share in the process, there will 
be men and times that make us reverentially 



Faith. 65 

feel its reality. Who can hear an unargu- 
mentative and unrhetorical Christian minister 
appeal to his people to cleanse their hearts 
and to help each other as sons of God in 
Christ, without feeling that he touches the 
deepest and strongest spring of noble conduct 
in mankind ? So far, the office which theolo- 
gians assign to faith seems to be one which 
we have the strongest moral warrant for 
allowing to it. But, on the other hand, the 
object of Faith is declared to be the work of 
Christ, consisting specially in the incarnation 
by which He took on Him our nature, in the 
death by which He purchased the forgiveness 
of sins, and the resurrection by which He 
opened to us the gate of everlasting life. 
These were events, continuous no doubt in 
their effects, but which took place in an his- 
torical past. Faith accordingly, as having 
the work of Christ for its object, is regarded 
as necessarily involving the belief that propo- 
sitions, asserting the actual occurrence of these 
events, are true. The saving Faith, on which 
Protestants insist, is doubtless held to imply 
much more than such an acceptance of certain 
F 



66 Faith. 

propositions ; but though much more, it can- 
not, according to the common conception, be 
less than this. A belief, not different in kind 
from the belief that Caesar was murdered on 
the Ides of March, must be an integral part 
of it, if its object is the work of Christ in the 
sense above explained. 

The Faith then which is supposed to be 
demanded of us as Christians involves two ele- 
ments, which, to say the least, are wholly dif- 
ferent on the one side, a certain intellectual 
assent of a kind which, if the propositions 
assented to concerned any other events than 
those purporting to convey a divine revela- 
tion, we should say could make no difference 
to the heart or spirit or character call it what 
we will which is alone of absolute value in a ' 
man ; on the other side, a certain attitude or 
disposition which belongs distinctively to this 
' inner man ' and gives us our worth as moral 
or spiritual beings. The deepening of the 
conception of Faith in the Lutheran theology 
only brings this discrepancy into clearer relief. 
The more strongly we insist that Faith is a 
personal and conscious relation of the man to 



Faith. 67 

God, forming the principle of a new life, not 
perhaps observable by others, but which the 
man's own conscience recognises, the more 
awkward becomes its dependence on events 
believed to have happened in the past. Th( 
evidence for their having happened may be 
exceedingly cogent, but at any rate the ap- 
preciation of it depends on processes of rea- 
soning which it would be a moral paradox to 
deny that a man may perform correctly with- 
out being the better, and incorrectly without 
being the worse. It has often been asked 
whether we can seriously suppose a man to 
be condemned in the sight of God for mis- 
understanding a proposition in divinity ; and 
though the question may have been irreve- 
rently put, there can be but one answer to it. 
It is not on any estimate of evidence, correct 
or incorrect, that our true holiness can depend. 
Neither, if we believe certain documents to be 
genuine and authentic, can we be the better, 
nor, if we believe it not, the worse. There is 
thus an inner contradiction in that conception 
of Faith which makes it a state of mind in- 
volving peace with God and love towards all 



68 Faith. 

men, and at the same time makes its object 
that historical work of Christ, of which our 
knowledge depends on evidence of uncertain 
origin and value. 

It will perhaps be said that our assent 
upon historical evidence to those articles of 
the Creed which relate to the miraculous 
events of Christ's life is different in kind from 
our assent to any other statements of remote 
history asserting that certain events have 
happened, just because the events, which the 
two kinds of statement severally purport to 
relate, are entirely different. When events 
are said to have happened as a medium of 
God's revelation of Himself to man, it is not 
by an intellectual process of estimating evi- 
dence, but by our convictions about God and 
by what our hearts demand of Him, that we 
are determined to believe or disbelieve their 
reality. Thus the Faith which accepts the 
truth of the Gospel story, and that which, as 
an assurance of God's love, renews the inner 
man and seeks to impart itself to all man- 
kind, form one homogeneous process. The 
consciousness of sin is already the promise 



Faith. 69 

and potency of Faith. It determines the soul 
to believe the narrative which tells how the 
Son of God took on Him our nature and 
obtained our free forgiveness. The same 
longing after God, which welcomes the record 
of this revelation, having received it, becomes 
that satisfied love which is Faith in its highest 
form. Now in this view there is no doubt 
truth, though it scarcely warrants that infer- 
ence from the source of belief in a supposed 
event to the reality of the event which 
Christian apologists are apt to draw. It is 
true, no doubt, that it has not been on his- 
torical evidence that any one has ever been 
brought to believe in Christ to the saving of 
his soul. To most of us it is under the name 
of Christ that all thoughts of God have come 
since first we were capable of them. God, 
so to speak, has been incarnate to us, has 
died and risen again for us in the person of 
Jesus, ever since there has been for us a God 
at all. Thought first becomes definite in 
language, and it is in the language which the 
creeds furnish that the bare consciousness of 
God which is involved in the consciousness 



7o Faith. 

of ourselves the yearning after Him which is 
inseparable from the impulse to fulfil our- 
selves has become a working theory of the 
relation between God and man. Hence the 
great concern of the best Christian teachers 
has been, and, when they are wise enough to 
stop their ears against the clamours of scep- 
ticism, still is, not to win assent upon the 
evidence to the miraculous narrative of the 
Gospels an assent in most cases already 
secured by habit, and otherwise scarcely to 
be obtained by argument but to bring their 
people to enact in their own hearts and lives 
the work which the creeds rehearse ; not to 
convince them that Christ was miraculously 
born and died and rose again, but so to affect 
them as that they shall die and rise again 
with Him and live as those to whom their sins 
have been forgiven and the gate of eternal 
life thrown open. The mode of inner life, 
which is thus recognised as alone giving 
spiritual value to the acceptance of the his- 
torical record of Christ's work, has already in 
germ been the determining cause of its accept- 
ance by those, from St. Paul downwards, who 



Faith, 71 

have not like ourselves learnt their religion in 
its language. There has been some spiritual 
process going on in them, such as the conflict 
described by St. Paul in Rom. vii between 
the law of his mind or reason and the law of 
sin in his members, which has made the 
acceptance of the Gospel narrative seem a 
divinely-revealed deliverance, but which was 
after all the natural parent of the seemingly 
altered life that followed the acceptance. 
The feeling of helpless alienation from God 
through the flesh, from which St. Paul found 
sudden relief in the recognition of Jesus as 
the Son of God in whom, sent in the likeness 
of sinful flesh, God had condemned sin in the 
flesh, itself gave reality to the message which 
brought the relief, and which enabled it, sur- 
viving in principle though altered in form, 
from a spirit of bondage to become a spirit 
of adoption. There have been many in all 
ages, whether nursed in Christianity or no, 
whether they have been left unacquainted 
with the New Testament or whether it has re- 
mained to them not an unknown or incredible 
but an unmeaning tale, to whom at some crisis 



7 2 Faith. 

of their lives the record of St. Paul's deliver- 
ance has come as life from the dead. The 
account of his case is also the account of 
theirs. A new man has been forming in them 
the sign of its presence being perhaps the 
more conscious antagonism of the old or a 
more wilful adherence to some mode of life 
or rule of action which has long ceased to 
satisfy but till it has received some assur- 
ance of divine recognition and help, it is weak 
from ignorance of its proper strength and is 
merely a source of inward unrest. In the 
Gospel history, as interpreted by St. Paul, it 
finds the needed assurance. It does not wait 
to balance evidence or curiously investigate 
the sources of the history. It seems to have 
passed from bondage into a glorious liberty, 
and that through an announcement of facts 
received from without : yet in truth, there is 
no break of continuity between the new life 
and the old. It was from the old sense of 
bondage that the announcement which brought 
deliverance derived at once its character and 
its certainty. The faith which accepted it 
was also the faith which interpreted it. Tha 



Faith. 73 

faith which accepted and interpreted it was 
also the faith which had inwardly demanded 
it ; and the faith which demanded, accepted, 
and interpreted it is also the faith which lives 
and works upon it. 

The practical Christian faith, thus formed 
and sustained, is thoroughly at one with itself. 
It is not in it, but in the current theological 
conception of it, that there lies the contradic- 
tion of which I have previously spoken. An 
assent to propositions upon evidence is no 
intrinsic element in it, nor that on which it 
ultimately depends. Its object is not past 
events, but a present, reconciled, and indwell- 
ing God. Its interest in the work of Christ 
is in this as a finislied work ; i.e., in present 
relations with God which Christ's work is 
thought to have rendered possible. It is no 
doubt historically conditioned ; but it is not 
on an intellectual estimate of its own con- 
ditions that it depends for being what it is. 
Without the Christian tradition it would not 
have been what it is, but a judgment as to the 
authenticity of that tradition, though it has 
hitherto followed from it almost as a matter 



74 Faith. 

of course, is not essential to it as a spiritual 
state. It is upon the formation of a theory 
about faith that it comes to be regarded as 
necessarily dependent on assent to proposi- 
tions concerning past events. Controversy 
compels the faithful to justify their faith. In 
its true nature Faith can be justified by 
nothing but itself. Like the consciousness of 
God and of duty of which indeed it is but 
another mode it is a primary formative 
principle, which cannot be deduced or derived 
from anything else. Any apparent derivation 
of it is inevitably a circular process. This, 
however, is what the understanding is slow to 
admit. It seeks for an explanatory antece- 
dent of Faith just as it might of any event in 
nature. Hence as Christian theology super- 
vened on Christian faith, the latter, pressed 
for its reason why, could only appeal to the 
ostensible facts embodied in the tradition of 
the Church ; which was in effect to ascribe its 
origin to an assent given in the past to a 
certain interpretation of certain events, while 
in truth both interpretation and assent were 
the result of the Faith supposed to be derived 



Faith. 75 

from them. Faith thus came to found itself, 
or rather to suppose itself founded, upon 
dogma : z>., upon propositions representing 
neither demonstrable truths of science, nor 
ultimate conditions necessary to the possibility 
of experience and knowledge, nor formative 
ideas of reason, nor imperatives of morality 
but either miraculous transactions, or deduc- 
tions from and explanations of those supposed 
transactions. Nor could the process of 
theorising upon its origin fail to react upon 
Faith itself. It was not that one man was 
accounting for the faith of another, but that 
the faithful were adjusting their faith to the 
demands of their own understanding. Hence 
dogma, a theory of Faith as originating in 
miracle, has come to be regarded by those, 
whose faith is really a certain disposition of 
the spirit towards God and man, as part and 
parcel of their Faith itself ; and though zeal for 
dogma is often related in inverse proportion 
to the power of faith in the higher sense, yet 
the latter cannot but suffer from disturbance 
of a doctrine which has for ages been the 
accepted compromise between the conscious- 



76 Fait It. 

ness of God and the importunities of the 
understanding, and which has wrought itself 
into the language and institutions of all the 
churches. 

Why then, it may be asked, except out of 
wilful mischief, should the supposed dogmatic 
basis of Faith be disturbed at all ? It is 
admitted that Faith, as the spiritual source of 
the Christian life, is the highest condition of 
human character. Why, for the sake of rec- 
tifying what is at worst a speculative mis- 
take into which Christians have generally 
fallen as to the genesis of their faith, should 
we run the risk of making that condition more 
difficult to reach or to maintain ? The answer 
is, that an inquiry into the relation between 
the life of faith and the order of the world is 
not one as to which it rests with the good 
pleasure of certain curious persons whether it 
shall be undertaken or no. The human spirit 
is one and indivisible, and the desire to know 
what nature is and means is as inseparable 
from it as the consciousness of God and the 
longing for reconciliation with Him. The 
scientific impulse on the one side, and the 



Faith. 7 7 

faith that worketh by love on the other, ex- 
hibit the same spirit in different relations. It 
is only some mistake that we make as to the 
origin or office of either that brings them into 
apparent competition. The scientific impulse 
goes on its own way and yields its own result. 
It traces the determination of event by event 
in a series to which it finds neither beginning 
nor end ; so that to those who have fancied 
that, if the course of events could be followed 
by memory far enough back or by a prophetic 
vision far enough forward, it would lead us to 
a divine act of creation or completion, science 
seems to make God disappear. An antece- 
dent in time which has itself had no antece- 
dent, a consequent in time which should have 
no further consequent are found to be impos- 
sibilities ; and though it is a mistake to iden- 
tify the causation of any phenomenon with its 
antecedent in time, yet it is vain to seek for 
it elsewhere than in conditions, of which each 
is itself conditioned and, as related to sense, 
sensibly verifiable. A proposition which as- 
serts divine causation for any phenomenon is 
not exactly false, but turns out on strict 



78 Faith. 

analysis to be unmeaning. Science is thus 
within its right so long as it merely rejects all 
imagination of an intrusion of the supernatural 
within the natural, or of a limit where the one 
ends and the other begins. It is another 
matter when it goes on to assume that there 
is nothing not natural. In such an assump- 
tion it is, so to speak, belying itself, for no 
one has yet succeeded in showing how for a 
being which was only a part of nature a science 
of nature should be possible, or how the 
thinking subject, apart from which nature 
itself would not be, should be itself natural. 
Science is therefore misunderstanding its own 
origin and office when, not content with 
showing the ' supernatural ' to be a mere 
phrase to which no reality corresponds, it 
seeks to apply the same process to the spiritual. 
Its own existence is a witness to the reality 
of the spiritual, though this, just because it is 
the source of knowledge, cannot be one of its 
objects. The true lesson which it teaches is 
that God is not to be sought in nature, nor in 
any beginning or end of nature, but in man 
himself. It warns us against trying to make 



Faith. 79 

statements about God as we might about any 
matter of fact which, in the strict sense, we 
know, but it does not touch that relation of 
the inner man to a higher form of itself of 
which the expression is to be found, not in 
the propositions of theology, but in prayer 
and praise the prayer which asks for nothing, 
the praise which thanks for nothing, but God's 
fulfilment of Himself and in that effort after 
an ideal perfection which is the spring of the 
moral life. 

But while science, rightly understood, 
leaves to the spiritual life all the room which 
this on its part, when rightly understood, re- 
quires, it is seldom that the pursuit of science 
leaves leisure for a true philosophy of what 
science is and implies. The man of science 
is apt to deny the existence of, or at least our 
concern with, anything which is not strictly 
an object of science or matter of fact. As 
the moral life cannot be altogether ignored, 
he misinterprets it into a natural history, and 
in so doing, though he cannot make it what 
he understands it to be, he runs the risk of 
lowering its ideal. Meanwhile the theologian 



8o Faith. 

co-operates with him in error by insisting on 
that misconception of the basis of faith which 
firings it and science into competition on the 
same ground. He will have it that Faith 
stands or falls with the admission or rejection 
of certain propositions concerning matters of 
fact, concerning the causation of events, which 
are strictly within the domain of science and 
which it must inevitably reject. The man of 
science is ready enough of himself to assume 
that the spiritual is no more than the super- 
natural, which he has always found to be a 
refuge for ignorance. When he hears the 
theologian telling the same tale, and talking , 
glibly of some ' projection of the supernatural 
within the natural ' as the origination of Faith, 
his prejudice is confirmed, and he naturally 
supposes that Faith is merely one of the 
modes of ignorance, which he has to clear out 
of his way. Hence arises that conflict be- 
tween religion and science which nowadays 
is on the tongues of all and in the hearts of 
many a conflict for which the champions on 
both sides are fond of telling us that there is 
no real ground, while they are alike main- 



Faith. 8 1 

taining positions which, so long as they are 
held, render it simply unavoidable. It is by 
no means therefore a piece of mere intellec- 
tual wantonness to disturb the faithful in that 
theory of their faith which they have come to 
think inseparable from faith itself : to inquire 
whether Faith, as a spiritual state, is neces- 
sarily dependent on assent to those propo- 
sitions concerning ostensible matters of fact, 
which form the basis of theological dogma. 
Such inquiry is necessary for the vindication 
of Faith itself, and even for its presentation, 
in its properly scriptural character. It is as 
presumed to be so dependent on miracle that 
it has come to be opposed to reason in a 
manner foreign, as we have seen, to the Faith 
of the New Testament, while conversely that 
opposition to sense, which is its characteristic 
in the New Testament, tends to disappear. 
If faith were really belief in the occurrence 
of certain miraculous events upon transmitted 
evidence of the senses of other people, its cer- 
tainty would after all be merely a weaker form 
of the certainty of sense. Such a Faith is 
neither intrinsically worth maintaining, nor in 
G 



82 Faith. 

the long run can it maintain itself, against the 
demands of reason. Reason will not be kept at 
bay by being told that certain truths are above 
it, when these ' truths/ if they are anything at 
all, are propositions concerning matters of fact 
to which from their nature the principles regu- 
lating all knowledge must be fully applicable. 
Under different relations, or in different modes 
of itself, reason is the source alike of Faith 
and of knowledge. It is but put at strife with 
itself when in its character of faith it is sup- 
posed to claim an assent which, as the source 
of the effort after knowledge, it must seek to 
set aside. 

A full justification of the statement that 
Reason is the source alike of Faith and of 
knowledge would carry me too far from my 
present purpose, which is to enforce the prac- 
tical nature of Faith. What it is intended to 
convey is something of this sort. Reason is 
self-consciousness. It is only as taken into 
our self-consciousness, and so presented to us 
as an object, that anything is known to us. 
Thus everything that we know is known to 
us as a constituent of one world, by the other 



Faith. 83 

constituents of which it is necessarily deter- 
mined. Hence arises the conception of what 
we call the uniformity of nature a concep- 
tion which, though it may be only formulated 
and articulated at a comparatively late stage 
of scientific reflection, is really involved in all 
knowledge whatever. In conceiving of a 
nature or ' objective world ' at all, we neces- 
sarily conceive it as uniform. If we assert a 
suspension of its laws, a break in its conti 
nuity, to have taken place even in a single 
case ; if we maintain so much as the possi- 
bility of an intrusion or ' projection ' of extra- 
natural agency within the natural ; though we 
may be willing to stake our life upon the 
proposition or more truly upon some moral 
or spiritual interest which we wrongly sup- 
pose it to involve, we are none the less saying 
what is intrinsically unmeaning ; for we are 
affirming the existence of knowledge and 
nature, and at the same time denying the 
principle in virtue of which alone knowledge 
is possible and there is for our consciousness 
such a thing as nature. But though Reason 
is thus, in the sense explained, the source of 



84 Faith. 

our knowledge of nature, it can never give 
completeness to that knowledge or in conse 
quence find in nature an object adequate to 
itself. Nature remains to us an endless series 
in which the knowing of anything implies of 
itself something further to be known. Yet 
the assurance of there being a reality, one, 
complete, and absolute, has been the source 
of that very knowledge which cannot become 
a knowledge of such reality. Through it alone 
a nature the cosmos of our experience, as 
Mr. Lewes well calls it has arisen for us. It 
is involved in the presence of Reason in us, 
as our self-consciousness, as the consciousness 
of a subject which is at once the negation and 
the unity of all things ; which we do not know 
but are, and through which we know. As in 
us, this rational self-consciousness supervenes 
upon sense, and it is because the data of sense 
are the materials which it makes into a 
knowledge, that a margin always remains to 
be known beyond what it can know and that 
thus it cannot know the absolute. But, though 
communicated to us in a mode which does 
not allow of its being itself in a strict sense 



Faith. 85 

known, it keeps before us an object which we 
may seek to become. It is an element of 
identity between us and a perfect Being, who is 
in full realisation what we only are in principle 
and possibility. That God is, it entitles us 
to say with the same certainty as that the 
world is or that we ourselves are. What He 
is, it does not indeed enable us to say in the 
same way in which we make propositions 
about matters of fact, but it moves us to 
seek to become as He is : to become like 
Him, to become consciously one with Him, 
to have the fruition of His Godhead. In this 
sense it is that Reason issues in the life of 
Faith. 

An objector here may naturally ask, how, 
if we do not know what God is, we can seek 
to become as He is. Does not the limitation 
we admit to the possibility of knowledge 
make faith too, in the sense described, an 
impossibility, or at any rate reduce it to a 
vague aspiration 

' The desire of the moth for the star, 
Of the night for the morrow, 
The devotion to something afar 
From the sphere of our sorrow '? 



86 Faith. 

Now, in the first place, it may be noticed 
that some limitation to our knowledge of the 
object of Faith is implied in the very idea of 
Faith. If we knew God as we know any- 
thing else, if His nature had been revealed to 
us by miraculous evidence of a kind with that 
which convinces us of matters of fact, then 
would faith be no more faith. As St. Paul 
says of Hope, which is but another name for 
Faith, ' We are saved by hope, but hope that 
is seen is not hope.' In a certain respect 
there is a correspondence between Faith, as 
the practical consciousness of God, and the 
artist's consciousness of an ideal. The ideal 
which governs the production of a work of 
art whether it be the ideal of an imitation 
of nature, or of something so far removed 
from this as I should suppose a musical com- 
position to be is not in the proper sense an 
object of knowledge to the artist. It is not 
anything which he could adequately describe 
in words. He can but gradually, and never 
completely, define the ideal by means of the 
work in which it is to some extent realised. 
It thus appears that an object of conscious- 



Faith. 87 

ness may be in the highest degree operative 
not upon us, but in and through us and in 
that most proper sense real, which yet is not 
known, but can only come to be known indi- 
rectly or piece-meal through the gradual re- 
sults of its operation. It will be observed 
further, that such an ideal object does not 
exist apart from the consciousness of it. It 
is not what we suppose an external thing to 
be there ready-made before and indepen- 
dently of our being aware of it. It exists 
only in the consciousness : yet any conscious- 
ness of it that the artist could call his own or 
that he could express not in a description 
before-hand, but in his most finished work 
falls far short, as he would tell us, of the ideal 
itself. The ideal exists in his consciousness, 
yet not in its full reality, for if it did it would 
no longer be an ideal. There is an identity 
between it and his consciousness of it ; other- 
wise it would not exist for him at all. Yet it 
must be more and other than his conscious- 
ness of it, or that consciousness would not be 
of an ideal. 

By help of this analogy it may be under- 



88 Faith. 

stood how there may be a consciousness of 
God, which is not a knowledge of Him of a 
kind with our knowledge of matters of fact, 
and yet is the most real, because the most 
operative, of all spiritual principles : a con- 
sciousness not definable like an ordinary 
ccnception, but which defines itself in a moral 
life expressive of it ; which is not indeed an 
external proof of the existence of God, but 
is in principle that existence itself a first 
communication of the Godhead. Such con- 
sciousness has in manifold forms been the 
moralising agent in human society, nay the 
formative principle of that society itself. The 
existence of specific duties and the recog- 
nition of them, the spirit of self-sacrifice, the 
moral law and the reverence for it in its most 
abstract and absolute form all no doubt pre- 
suppose society ; but society, of a kind to 
render them possible, is not the creature of 
appetite and fear, or of the most complicated 
and indirect results of these. It implies the 
action in man of a principle in virtue of 
which he projects himself into the future or 
into some other world as some more perfect 



Faith, 89 

being than he actually is, and thus seeks not 
merely to satisfy momentary wants but to 
become ' another man ' to become more 
nearly as this more perfect being. Under 
this influence wants and desires that have 
their root in the animal nature become an 
impulse of improvement (' Besserungstrieb ') 
which forms, enlarges, and re-casts societies ; 
always keeping before man in various guise, 
according to the deg ee of his development, 
an unrealised ideal of a Best which is his God, 
and giving Divine authority to the customs or 
laws by which some likeness of this ideal is 
wrought into the actuality of life. I cannot 
here attempt to trace even in outline, as a 
Philosophy of History should do, the pro- 
cess by which God's revelation of Himself in 
the human consciousness has thus issued in 
the institutions by which our elementary 
moralisation is brought about ; or to show 
how upon this process there has supervened 
another in which the consciousness of God 
has come to distinguish itself from these its 
partial and changing results, and to recognise 
itself alone, in opposition to any outward law 



o Faith. 

of state or church, as the manifested God, His 
communication of Himself in spirit and in 
truth. We are born, so to speak, into a world 
in which these processes have already been 
carried so far, in which the consciousness of 
God has already so far embodied itself, that 
the problem of faith for us is rather to 
overcome the selfishness and conceit which 
prevent us from taking into ourselves in- 
dividually the revelation of God which is 
everywhere about us, than to develop that 
revelation more fully. It is our very fami- 
liarity with God's expression of Himself in 
the institutions of society, in the moral law, 
in the language and inner life of Christians, 
in our own consciences, that helps to blind us 
to its divinity, and emboldens us to claim the 
right to please ourselves unabashed by its 
presence. Yet if thus, by refusing to recog- 
nise it, we turn the light that is in us to 
darkness, how great is that darkness ! In the 
higher forms of the Christian religion the 
spirit of man has reached that stage some- 
times called by mystics the reign of the Holy 
Ghost in which the consciousness of God is 



Faith. 9 1 

a consciousness of Him, no longer as an 
outward power, but as one with itself, as 
reconciled and indwelling. If it becomes so 
perverted in us that, having ceased to look 
for a God outside us, we will not recognise 
Him in ourselves and in that which our con- 
science reveals to us, we are committing the 
true sin against the Holy Ghost a sin un- 
pardonable, in the sense that it shuts us out 
from the higher life the life of correlative 
self- reverence and self-abasement, of self- 
sacrifice and self-development the life of 
faith. 

The enemy which religion, i.e. a God- 
seeking morality, has now to fear, is not a 
passionate atheism. Such atheism is often a 
religion which misunderstands itself. It is 
seeking after God, but in the hurry of irrita- 
tion against the ignorance and fear which call 
themselves religious, it cannot recognise its 
object under the old name. It may limit and 
distort the spiritual life, and yet leave the 
spring of its nobility untouched. Not from 
it is our danger, but from the slow sap of an 
undermining indifference which does not deny 



92 Faith. 

God and duty, but ignores them ; which does 
not care to trouble itself about them, and 
finds in our acknowledged inability to know 
them, as we know matters of fact, a new ex- 
cuse for putting them aside. It is this which 
takes off the native beauty from the fair 
forehead of a child-like faith, and leaves, not 
the scars of a much-questioning and often- 
failing but still believing search after God, 
whom so to seek is to find, but the vacancy 
of contented worldliness or the sneer of the 
baffled pleasure-seeker. 

It is indeed no new malady. While ' the 
flesh lusteth against the spirit ' it must always 
be at work, and may be as prevalent in an 
age of orthodoxy as in an age of doubt. But 
we know it best and have most to fear it in 
the form which it takes from the temper of our 
own time. Most of us, I should suppose, who 
have felt the influence of modern ' culture ' at 
all, must have felt that it has been giving at 
any rate great opportunities to this enemy of 
our spiritual life. Everything has had a 
history, we have learnt complacently to say. 
The notions of God, of duty, of an ideal life, 



Faith. 93 

have been constantly shifting. They have 
'developed,' and that is vaguely taken to 
mean that they are transitory phases of a 
force moving we know not whence or whither. 
' We are children of nature, the offspring of 
circumstance ; nature and circumstance may 
be left to make us what they will, so long as 
we take our fill undisturbed of such pleasures 
as they put in our way. A perfect Being 
whom we cannot know, an absolute law which 
we cannot describe, are clearly no concern 
of ours.' So, more or less articulately, we are 
apt to argue ; and though the Divine con- 
sciousness in us, which is necessary even to 
the possibility of our so arguing, cannot thus 
be wholly suppressed, it is prevented from 
duly actualising itself, and we are left in a state 
of moral triviality than which the darkest de- 
spair of doubt is far more noble. Even though 
we bear up against the deadening influence, 
yet as criticism compels us to discard, one 
after another, 'the fair humanities of old 
religion ' the anthropomorphic formulae in 
which we have been used to express to our- 
selves the presence and action of God as an 



94 Faith. 



external person moulding nature to His pur- 
poses and intervening in it when and how He 
will our spiritual life cannot but feel the 
change. It lacks the means of utterance and 
communication. We know not how to speak 
of Divine things to each other; we are es- 
tranged from the sympathies of the Christian 
congregation. Yet ' still the heart doth need 
a language ; ' and, unable to use the old or to 
make a new one, it loses the energy which 
free exercise and expression are needed to 
sustain. Our moral standard indeed may not 
suffer. We may persist grimly in the walk of 
duty and refuse to acquiesce in the attitude 
of disbelief, but ' the fire so bright, the love 
so sweet, the unction spiritual ' are ours no 
longer. 

It may seem more easy to show the in- 
evitableness of this state of mind than a way 
of deliverance from it. No deliverance indeed 
is to be looked for from without. No dis- 
covery in nature, no ' glimpses of the unseen,' 
no revived force or recognition of authority, 
will bring us help. Faith is not to be saved 
by anything that would supersede faith, but 



Faith. 95 

only by its own faithfulness ; and it will be 
so saved if, through the trial to which in the 
criticism of its supposed dogmatic basis it is 
subjected, it learns more clearly to recognise 
its native divinity the God that worketh in 
it and its proper independence of external 
support. Thus finding in itself the revelation 
which it seeks in vain elsewhere, it does not 
cease to be rather it becomes again what 
in essence it was to St. Paul. It is in his spirit, 
I venture to think, that we may reason thus 
with our doubts. ' You complain that by 
searching you cannot find out God. No eye 
can see, or ear hear Him. The assertion that 
He exists cannot be verified like any other 
matter of fact. But what if that be not be- 
cause He is so far off, but because He is so 
near ? You cannot know Him as you know 
a particular fact related to you, but neither 
can you so know yourself ; and it is yourself 
not as you are but as in seeking Him you 
become that is His revelation. " Say not in 
thine own heart, who shall ascend into heaven 
or descend into the deep," to find God in the 
height of another world or in the depths of 



96 Faith. 

nature ? " The word of God is very nigh thee, 
even in thy mouth and in thy heart." It is 
the Word that has been made man ; that has 
been uttering itself in all the high endeavour, 
the long-suffering love, the devoted search for 
truth, which have so far moralised mankind, 
and that now speaks in your conscience. It 
is the God in you which strives for communi- 
cation with God. 

" Speak to Him thou, for He hears, and spirit 

with spirit can meet ; 
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer 
than hands and feet." 

Not as to the sensual ear, nor necessarily 
through the stinted expression of verbal 
signs, but as a man communes with his own 
heart, you may speak to God. Though you 
know not what you should pray for as you 
ought, yet the Spirit itself maketh interces- 
sion for you with groanings which cannot be 
uttered. Look not for an external answer to 
your prayer. Your prayer will be its own 
answer, even as the virtuous action is its own 
reward. Prayer indeed, if of the right sort, 
is already incipient action ; or, more properly, 



Faith. 97 

it is a moral action which has not yet made 
its outward sign. It is the determination of 
desire by the consciousness of God, and is an 
incident of that process which, as the effort to 
realise a conception of absolute law, to fulfil 
our true vocation, to develop humanity, to 
enact God in the world, constitutes the 
morally good life. Neither the prayer nor 
the life is a means to anything beyond itself. 
Each has its value simply as the expression 
or realisation of the Divine principle which 
renders each possible. To ask for a verifica- 
tion of your idea of God before you pray, or 
for a proof of the existence of an absolute 
moral law before you deny yourself in obedi- 
ence to its command, is to deprive yourself of 
the benefit of the only proof or verification 
which the nature of the case admits. You 
cannot find a verification of the idea of God 
or duty ; you can only make it. God is not 
something outside and beyond the conscious- 
ness of Him, any more than duty is outside 
and beyond the consciousness of it. The true 
verification of the consciousness is the life of 
prayer and self-denial which expresses it. 
H 



98 Faith. 

Though the failing heart cries out for evidence, 
at the worst live on as if there were God and 
duty, and they will prove themselves to you 
in your life. The witness which God has 
given of Himself in the spiritual history of 
mankind you will in this way make your own.' 
Whether such language will carry much 
meaning to those to whom I speak I cannot 
but feel doubtful. But I can only say to them 
what I say to myself, and offer them, the 
thoughts in which, amid much misgiving and 
frequent failure of heart and will, I still find 
assurance. Even if the truth of such thoughts 
be accepted, the difficulty of making them 
available for the daily food which human 
weakness requires still remains. They may 
suffice for us while reason is strong and the 
temper calm, but when 

' Our light is low 

When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick 
And tingle, and the heart is sick. 
And all the wheels of Being slow,' 

we need another sustenance the support, 
as we should be apt to say, of something 
more ' objective ' and tangible. It is idle 



Faith. 99 

to ignore the reality and inevitableness of 
this demand, nor, though we may antici- 
pate a time when it will be rather met by 
the sympathies of a society breathing the 
Christian spirit than by the propositions of 
an anthropomorphic theology, will this an- 
ticipation give us much practical help, since 
the needed sympathies are at present scarcely 
to be found except among those to whom they 
seem dependent upon such a theology. To 
those therefore who find themselves, not 
indeed even seemingly detached from the 
eternal basis of faith, but to a certain degree 
weakened and distressed in their spiritual 
walk by inability to adopt the received dog- 
matic expression of the Christian faith and 
by consequent estrangement from Christian 
society, I must frankly confess that there is 
no present compensatory support which I can 
indicate. I can but make a few suggestions 
for lessening the danger and loss which can- 
not be wholly avoided. 

In the first place, let us not make the 
estrangement wider than it need be. Inability 
to adopt the ' creeds of Christendom in their 



i oo Faith. 

natural sense and in any other sense they 
are best left alone need not disqualify us 
from using its prayers. A creed is meant to 
serve either as an article of agreement with 
other men, or as a basis of theological argu- 
ment ; and from each point of view there are 
objections to using its words in any other mean- 
ing than that which they are ordinarily under- 
stood to bear. But in prayer we need not 
ask whether our words are such as would be 
understood by others in the same sense as by 
us, or whether they convey a correct theological 
conception. They are not meant to be heard 
of men. ' He that searcheth the hearts 
knoweth what is the mind of the spirit/ So 
long as our prayers express the effort after a 
higher life, recognised as proceeding from, and 
only to be satisfied by, the grace of God, the 
theological formulae in which they are clothed 
are of little importance. In the prayers of 
the Christian Church, issuing as they do from 
a consciousness to which the death in Christ 
to sin and the new life in Him unto God, a 
free forgiveness and the indwelling of the 
Spirit, represented spiritual experiences, we 



Faith. 101 

have modes of utterance which in the de- 
velopment of the same consciousness and it 
cannot be developed without utterance we 
may properly make our own. The fact that 
others who use them have beliefs as to his- 
torical occurrences which we do not share, 
need not prevent us from sharing with them 
what is not the expression of an historical 
belief but of a spiritual aspiration. Such 
participation is of the more value when it 
becomes part of a general co-operation in that 
active life of the Christian society, in which 
the prayers of the congregation find their 
proper complement It is often for want of 
this co-operation that Faith, as a spiritual 
principle, tends to languish in those to whom 
the traditional dogmatic expression of it has 
become impossible. Such persons are much 
too ready to acquiesce in isolation as a neces- 
sary result of their opinions. It is rather the 
result of an obtrusion of their opinions, with 
which vanity and impatience have much to 
do. The days of tests and declarations, ex- 
cept for clerical functions, are over, and it is 
surely a weakness, when we are not pressed 

LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
BARBARA 



IO2 Faith. 

for our opinions, to make so much of them to 
other people, or to ourselves, as to be excluded 
or to exclude ourselves from joining in a 
common activity, the spirit of which we in- 
wardly reverence and would gladly make our 
own, while in separation we are almost cer- 
tain to lose it. It is one of the misfortunes of 
our life here that it tends to make us overrate 
the importance of opinions as compared, I do 
net say with mere outward conduct, but with 
the practical principles of the inner life ; and 
even though, as a matter of theory, we avoid 
this mistake, yet our position and employ- 
ment allow us few openings into that active 
life of charity in which Christian faith is most 
readily realised. Even here, however, in our 
intercourse with each other, there are oppor- 
tunities for us to ' bear one another's burdens, 
and so fulfil the law of Christ ; ' nor, because 
much of our intellectual activity is the result 
of mere curiosity or emulation, should we 
forget that there is such a thing as a pursuit 
of truth, in principle identical with the striving 
after God which animates the moral life. 
Those of us to whom University life is merely 



Faith. 103 

an avenue to the great world, would do well 
betimes to seek opportunities of co-operation 
with those simple Christians whose creed, 
though we may not be able exactly to adopt 
it, is to them the natural expression of a spirit 
which at the bottom of our heart we recognise 
as higher than our own. In the every-day life 
of Christian citizenship, in its struggle against 
ignorance and vice, such opportunities are 
readily forthcoming. It will be rather, it is 
true, on the fringe of the Church that such 
work will lie. For some of the deeper cha- 
rities, so to speak, of the Christian society 
such as ministering to the spiritual wants of 
the sick speculative differences may for the 
present necessarily disqualify us. But there re- 
mains a large range of Christian activity, from 
which our excommunication will be our own 
fault. In it, if we will exercise the needful 
restraint if we will curb our conceit, and 
watch our tongues, and keep aloof from temp- 
tations to controversy we may still have 
some experience of that fellowship with the 
saints which is necessary for our daily suste- 
nance in the life of Faith. 



IO4 Faith. 

Meanwhile, if the present distress must 
still for a time continue, if the cheerfulness 
and brightness of faith should still seem ne- 
cessarily to disappear along with the abandon- 
ment of that dogmatic expression of it which 
criticism invalidates, let us be all the firmer 
in refusing any compromise with our lower 
nature. It is not the reality of God or of the 
ideal law of conduct that is in question, but 
the adequacy of our modes of expressing 
them. We may be passing through a period 
of transition from one mode of expressing 
them to another, or perhaps to an admission 
of their final inefTableness. Whatever we do, 
let us not make the difficulties of the transi- 
tion an excuse for concessions to the spirit of 
self-indulgence. If doubts come thick, and 
we have ceased to look for any rending of the 
heavens to remove them, so that our faith in 
God no longer brings the old joy and peace 
of believing, let us rather ask ourselves what 
right we have to be happy than seek our 
happiness in pleasures where, because we are 
capable of God, we cannot find it. Faith in 
God and duty will survive much doubt and 



Faith. 105 

difficulty and distress, and perhaps attain to 
some nobler mode of itself under their influ- 
ence. But if once we have come to acquiesce 
in such a standard of living as must make us 
wish God and duty to be illusions, it must 
surely die. 



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